Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dessert


"They can imitate you
But they can't duplicate you
Cause you got something special
That makes me wanna taste you
I want it all day long
I'm addicted like it's wrong
I want it all day long
I'm addicted like it's
Whatcha gon
Whatcha gon do with that dessert." Dessert by Darwin


I headed to work early on Monday to complete my responsibilities before I could help out with patients now that Vincent wasn't working with us. I was overlooking the patients' charts when Monica dropped by the office. Dr. Fahri left a release for one of her players so she came to pick it up.

"Um, let me ask you something." I started as I handed over the signed release. "Did you tell Uriel about the night he met me?"

Monica eyes widen. "No. Why do you ask?"

"No reason." I shrugged. There really was no reason- I still wasn't going to call him. I was just curious how he remembered my birthday cake when he claimed he didn't before.

"Hmmm...ok. What are you doing here so early anyway?"

I explained to her about Vincent's sudden exit.

"Hmph. Good riddance. I know you're not sad to see him go." Monica replied.

"Yes and no. His attitude sucked, but I wished he would have stayed longer so we would have had a replacement for him."

"Are you getting help in the evenings?"

"Dr. Fahri is going to pop in more, but other than that, I'm just going to pick up the slack."

"So you're working two jobs for the time being?"

"I don't mind.  He just left at a bad time. Normally I don't have anything better to do. This week my cousin is finally coming to visit me."

"Do you have anything planned this weekend?"

"Not sure where or when, but I gotta take her somewhere."

"Friday my husband is dragging me to an event for one of the sponsors for the Mavericks. Y'all should come."

I gave her an amused look. "As excited as you sound to go, I'm gonna pass."

"It's not going to be fun for me- I have to hang out with the booze bags wives and girlfriends."

"Are they that bad?"

She shook her head. "Worse. But if you wanna come enjoy the music and drinks without the pack of hyenas, give me a call."

I laughed. "Ok, I will..."

I waved goodbye as she left. I hurried home that night so I could watch the Grammy's. I ate cookies for dinner so I wouldn't miss anything. Christian category wasn't televised, but I looked up the results while I was watching. When it was announced the album that he worked on won, I sent him a celebratory text.

The following morning, Shawnee posted on her Snapchat a ton of videos from the after parties, shouting out and congratulating Christian. I noticed a lot of Christian's manager's Hugo snaps included Christian with random and well known women. I didn't let it bother me; I had no claim on Christian and I wasn't going to worry about things I couldn't control. I did step aside at work when he called me back that day.

"Hey Grammy award winning artist Christian." I smiled as I answered the phone.

"No, I'm part of the production team who's album won a Grammy."

"Don't try to minimize your accomplishment- it's a Grammy either way! That's huge!"

"Trying to stay humble."

"Being humble doesn't work as well as being aware." I quoted to him.

"Who said that?"

"I just did."

"I meant, who did you steal that from?"

"Ohmygosh, you don't know? The Grammy winner doesn't know?" I teased.

"No. I'm looking it up right now."

"Go ahead! Just be aware that while you have a Grammy, I stumped you." I goaded.

"Fucking Drake! That shit is going to bother me all day." Christian groaned.

"Bye Grammy winner!"

Bianca arrived in town Thursday afternoon. I felt bad I wasn't able to pick her up and take her to my house, but work was crammed enough. Adil had yet to make an appearance like he said he would, so I had to stay on top of everything myself.

Bianca planned to rent a car anyway and could GPS her way to my house. I hid a key in my backyard for her. While I was hiding the key, I got a call from the animal hospital. They wanted me to complete a survey about when Justine had surgery. I left a rave review, while also requesting the number to the vet that treated Justine. I wanted his opinion on her dental care. When she transferred me to his extension, I got his voicemail. I left a message with my number requesting a call back.

When I got home that night, I entered through the garage and Justine came running, meeting me in the laundry room. Bianca followed, and I moved away from Justine to gave her a hug.

"It's been too long!" I said, embracing her enthusiastically.

"I know! You look gorgeous!" she declared, equally excited to see me.

"Bullshit! Let me take a look at you." I said, pulling away to look her over. She struck a model pose, and I laughed at her. She always been naturally skinny, but now her arms and legs looked tightly toned in a sleeveless top and snug fitting pants. Her hair was a striking deep chocolate brown, cut in stylish long layers to her back. She looked incredible- but so much more older than when I last saw her. I wasn't sure why that was...

"So?" Bianca said, expectantly.

"Eh, nothing a cheeseburger won't fix."

"I knew you were going to say that!"

"C'mon. I'll give you the official tour!"

"Are you kidding? I already went through every room." she said, following me.

"That's why I said official."

I took Bianca to every room of my house again. She loved the furniture my dad picked out for the living room, I had to explain Sammy's makeshift bar in my kitchen, she commented that the dinning room looked familiar, picked a guess room to sleep in and hopped on my bed while I changed clothes.

"What do you want to eat?" I asked as I removed my scrubs and changed into jeans and a top.

"Braums!"

Over dinner, she told me about Tahiti, the swimsuit and clothing line she was working on, and the real reason she was in Dallas for the next few days.

"Jorge Marta is franchising his boutiques across the country. He has a shop opening in Dallas, Austin, Vegas and Seattle this year. It would be huge if we can get him to carry the line in his store. He's going to be in town for his grand opening Saturday." She explained, excitedly.

"Ohhh!" I cut her off, feigning outrage. "So that's what this trip is? Not to visit your only cousin that misses and loves you dearly?" I wasn't really upset- well, maybe a tad that she wasn't here to just see me. Any ill feelings I had disappeared when I saw how excited she was.

"If this deal goes through, the first shipments of clothes goes to his boutique- the second will go to you."

"Hmmph. I don't even know what these clothes look like."

"I designed them- that's all you need to know."

I smiled at her confidence. "True enough."

I took a deep breath and asked what was really on my mind. "Have you spoken to your mom?"

"No." she said bluntly.

"Do you plan to reach out?"

"Do you plan to reach out to yours? I know Ben got you her contact information."

I shook my head. "It's not the same."

"It kinda is, considering they both made the choice not to be a part of our lives- no matter the reason." Bianca said, coldly. I didn't have an argument for that, so I said nothing. My phone rang, breaking the tension between us. I quickly answered the unknown caller.

"Lily? This is Scott Chapman from Legacy Pet Hospital."

"Hi Dr. Chapman. Thank you so much for returning my call." I said, shooting Bianca an apologetic glance. She waved me off and pulled out her phone.

"My apologizes for calling this late. I just checked my messages. How is Justine doing?" he asked.

I explained to him the same thing I told her Vet- I just wanted a second opinion.

"She did just have surgery, I wouldn't want anyone putting anymore strange objects in my mouth if I was in her shoes." he said, lightly.

"I get that. I guess my only option is to put her asleep for cleanings?" I resigned.

"That maybe necessary if she continues to have problems. Try introducing her to you cleaning her teeth gradually. Start with something that she likes- say peanut butter. That was the only way I got my dog to take medicine- covering it with peanut butter. Try peanut butter first, than switch to toothpaste." he explained.

"Oh wow, thank you so much for that. I'm definitely going to try that." I said, grateful for a plan.

"Ok, call me back if you or your boyfriend have any questions or concerns." he offered.

"Just me, but I'll call. Thank you." I said goodbye before hanging up. When Bianca was done texting and smiling at her phone, I explained to her what was going on with Justine.

"So how was San Francisco? I mean, before you left?" she asked.

"Eh, it was ok. Kinda bummed I missed the Suberbowl though, but it was still fun."

"So you and Christian had fun?" she continued.

"For the most part." I replied before telling her what I knew she wanted to know. "Nothing happened between us, but we are dating." It was the first time I said it out loud. It didn't sound that weird anymore.

"Dating?" she gasped at me.

"Yeah...Casually. Just getting to know each other." I explained.

"How do you do that- long distance?"

"Um, lots of talking on the phone. He actually came out to see me last week."

Her eyes widen. "For Valentine's?"

"A little before that, but basically."

She was quiet, I could see the wheels spinning in her head.

"What is it? Because this will be the only time I'm taking comments about it." I joked.

"How did you get to know someone over the phone? That's not real- he can just tell you what you want to hear."

"I mean, you can be face to face with someone and they only tell you what you want to hear. I'm trusting that he's being real with me like I'm real with him."

"I've heard things from Noelle about him-"

"And I heard things from Christian about her, but that's up for you to determine right?"

"Right." she admitted, reluctantly. "Just... Be careful ok?"

"I am. I promise, he's not my boyfriend. No commitment. We're just talking, getting to know each other." I reiterated.

"Gotcha." she nodded. We both went back in line for Ice cream cones for dessert. Bianca moaned as she devoured her treat.

"Good?"

"You have no idea. It's been forever since I had ice cream. Noelle doesn't do sugar."

"How do you not do sugar?"

"Easy. Everything she eats is natural. Organic. Nothing processed."

"What does that have to do with you?"

"I try to eat better too. Besides, it makes you taste better. Noelle taste like pineapples."

"Eww fucking gross!!! I'm trying to enjoy my dessert!" I hurried away from her to the car While she laughed at me.



Friday night, when I got home Bianca already set out an outfit for me for the party. I took a shower, got dressed, did my make-up and was finishing my hair when Christian video called me.

"Hey Grammy winner." I smiled at him.

He returned my smile, broadly. "Still with that?"

"Always with that! You know how many Grammy wining artists I know?" I questioned him.

"I don't know; how many?"

"7 but you're my favorite."

"Wow... Thanks. You make me feel special."

I giggled. "Whatever. How many girls have made you feel special after you invited them home to see your Grammy?"

He chuckled at me. "0, but I don't have it yet. You wanna be the first?"

I nodded. "Let me know when you get it."

"You getting ready to go out?"

"Yeah. One of the athletic trainers for the Mavericks invited us to a party."

"So you're getting sexy for him?"

"She is married, but I still hopes she likes it."

"Let me see if I like it. Stand up."

I giggled and stood up, straightening the gorgeous grey dress Bianca got for me. It had high neckline and went down all the way pass my knees, hugging my curves. The thigh high slit added a touch of sexiness to the dress.

"Prop the camera up so it's facing the mirror." He instructed me. I did what he asked, watching his reflection through the mirror as he watched me.

"Now spin around." he commanded.

 I did.

"Slower."

I did it again, slowly, and he rapped to me.
"You just like my sidekick, I just wanna wife. Fulfill all your desires. Keep you in the front, never in the back. And never on the side. You a real ass woman and I like it. I don't wanna fight it-"

I laughed at him, dancing around. He stopped rapping to watch me, a smile plastered on his face.

When my door busted open, I quickly sat down at my vanity. I blushed as Bianca looked me over, cautiously.

"What are you laughing about?" Bianca asked me.

"Nothing. I'm taking to Christian." I said, grabbing my phone and giving Christian a little smile.

They gave each other weak hellos before Bianca backed out the room. "I'll wait for you in the living room."

"Ok." I told her. He waited for the door to close before saying, "She doesn't knock?"

"Not when it's just us." I smiled, hopping it'll take some of the awkwardness away. It lingered for a moment before I asked Christian. "Who'd you steal that rap from?"

"Maybe I wrote it for you."

"Really?"

"No. You don't recognize Drake? I stumped you?" he grinned.

"What Drake song was that?" I exclaimed. I didn't sound familiar at all.

"Fire and Desire from Views."

"Hey! That's not out yet!" I complained.

"I got connections. I'll send it to. Listen to that song first. It reminds me of you."

"You know what song reminds me of you?" I said sweetly.

"What's that?"

"Cheater cheater pumpkin eater." I sang to him.

He laughed at me. "Bye. Have fun tonight."

After hanging up, I finished my outfit with a pale purple cardigan and grey booties. Bianca was waiting for me in purple leggings, a black sweater and a oversized gray vest. Black stiletto heels and a silver pendant around her neck finished her look. With her hair slicked back, a smokey eye and nude lip, she looked effortlessly elegant and sexy at the same time. I would have been envious of her abundance of style if it wasn't what she did for a living and she didn't share with me.

"So you have us matching? How cute."

"What?" she asked, putting her phone away.

"You purple tights, grey vest? Me purple cardigan, gray dress?" I pointed out

"Your dress is pewter and the cardigan is mauve. These tights are magenta and the vest is charcoal."

"Right. Purple and gray."

"Let's go." she instructed me with a smile.

The party was everything Monica said it would be; we had a blast. The wives and girlfriends were over the top. They drank like fish, called each other derogatory nicknames, and were the loudest group in the VIP section; but they were fun. When Stanky Leg came on, a girlfriend pulled me up on one of the couches to do the dance with her. I dragged Bianca and Monica to the dance floor when Formation by Beyonce came on, threating them with the wrath of the Beehive if they were caught out of formation. Majority of the ladies joined us and left VIP to dance wildly on the floor.  After a few songs, Monica, Bianca and I retired back to the VIP section.

"Hey guysss!" Monica exclaimed, excitedly rushing to her husband Trent's side. Beside him was Uriel, and he gave me and Bianca an appraising look before standing up and offering us a seat.

"Thanks." I smiled, greeting Trent and Uriel, introducing them to Bianca. We both sat down and I made sure I took the outside with Bianca next to me.

"Hey! Now you two can talk to each other instead of asking me questions!" Monica announced, pointing to Uriel and me.

"I asked one question pertaining to him but it was for you Monica!" I clarified.

Monica shrugged, looking at Uriel. "I did ask her where you went on Vacation." he turned to me then. "How was the Superbowl?" Uriel asked.

"I didn't get to see it. I had to come back because my dog got sick." I explained.

"Sorry for your loss." he told me.

I balked at him. "She's still alive! Just lost a tooth."

"Ok. Sorry you missed the Superbowl then... And that she lost her tooth." he said, smoothly. I couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or not. I nodded but didn't respond.

"Are you a dog or a cat person?" Bianca asked him.

"If I had to pick, dog." he answered.

"So is Lily! You two should talk!" Bianca encouraged him while I narrowed my eyes at her.

"I don't think she wants to talk to me. I left her my number, but she never called." He admitted.

"She's not the kinda girl who's going to call a guy. You gotta get her number." Bianca coached him.

"Really? Y'all are going to talk about me like I'm not here?" I cut in. They continued like I said nothing.

"I thought she didn't call because she has a boyfriend. She said she did when we met."

"She doesn't! She's causally dating at the moment." Bianca hinted to him.

"Would getting cake fall into the category of casually dating?" He asked Bianca but winked at me.

"I guess it would depend on the type of cake you're talking about." Bianca played along.

"Well what kind of cake does Lily prefer?"

"She has no preference when it comes to cake. Cupcakes, cheesecakes, snack cakes, she's all for it." Bianca grinned, suggestively.

"Alright. Bye!" I announced, standing up.

Bianca laughed. "I'll shut up now."

Before I could sit back down, she scooted over making me swipe seats with her. Uriel gave me a challenging look, and I sat down next to him.

We changed to neutral subjects and talked among each other until it was time to go. Uriel stood with us while we waited for our Uber outside.

"Can I get your number?" he asked me.

"I don't know. You're pretty forgetful. You might just forget to call." I played him off.

"I didn't forget you; I thought you had a boyfriend. Why don't you come get cake with me- then decide about giving me your number." He asked.

"I'll think about it." I told him before our car pulled up.

"Are you trying to date anyone besides Christian?" Bianca asked me as soon as we took off.

I narrowed my eyes at her. "I thought we talked about Christian."

"This is not actually about him. It's about you-actually dating and seeing what's out there. You've never done that before."

"If I meet someone I wanna hang out with, I will." I ended the conversation at that.

Saturday Morning, Rocky and I went to get our hair and nails done while Bianca opted to stay home to strategize with Noelle about the store opening.

When I came home, Bianca was doing some complicated yoga poses with a humidifier type thing pumping weird fragrances in the air.

"The fuck?" I asked her.

"Shh. Seriously, don't start. I need this time." she said, cracking an eye at me.

"I don't even know where to start. " I muttered to myself, feeding Justine peanut butter. A smile broke out on her face, but she quickly refocused.

I let her do her thing, and Justine actually let me massage her gums while feeding her peanut butter. Afterwards, Bianca got dressed and left I wished her good luck and left for the grocery store. I figured Bianca hadn't had a regular, processed sugar filled home cooked meal so I cooked a ton of food for her. Hopefully a celebration, but comfort food as well. I used all of Aunt's Patty's recipes. When she returned, I rushed her immediately.

"Hey. How'd it go?!?" I exclaimed, making her a plate of food.

"Better than I even planned! We set up a meeting next week in California." she gushed excitedly.

"Ohmygod! Congratulations!!! Tell me everything." I demanded, pulling her in for a hug.

She told me word for word what happened.

"I couldn't even think... I didn't even know what to say! I told him I'd have to get back to him when he first offered the meeting. Then I spent about an hour buying random things until I saw him again and told him next week was great." Bianca laughed at herself.

"At least you got the meeting! That's amazing." I smiled. "Eat! Eat! Then we'll go out and celebrate!"

"Why don't we just hang out here?" Bianca suggested, pushing her plate away.

"You don't wanna go out?"

"Where? Another bar and a cover band?"

"I do other stuff..." I lied. I had no idea where else to take her.

"Let's just chill here."

"Ok."

I texted everyone that we weren't going out but they were welcomed to come to my house. As they arrived, we ate and drank and toasted Bianca. When Blake and Jordan showed up, everyone cheered, congratulated and toasted them on the engagement. Jordan proudly showed off her ring. She told us about how Blake set up candles in the shape of a heart at their favorite restaurant and got on one knee to propose to her.

"That's so romantic." Peyton cooed.

"Yeah...so when's your due date..er, wedding date?" I asked, slyly.

Jordan immediately shut me down. "I'm not pregnant and we haven't picked a date yet."

"Yeah but we don't want a long engagement so we can get started right away." Blake grinned triumphantly, putting his arm around Jordan. She beamed at him.

"Right... We'll see what comes first: a wedding or a baby. " I joked.

"Don't be jealous Lily. You had your shot." Blake tossed at me. While everyone "ohhhed" and exclaimed, I put my hands on my hips.

"Excuse me? My shot? That never happened!"

"You don't remember our date at Denny's?"

"Pancakes? For real?" I said, incredulously.

"I paid, so it was a date. A cheap one, but still a date." he goaded me.

"I'm gonna call you Odell with that reach."

Forrest laughed out loud, knowing the Blake was a cowboy fan and would hate the mention of Odell.

"Fuck Odell Beckham!!!" Blake seethed.

I went to refill cups and heard Dominick and Bianca in the kitchen discussing Richard.

"Have you heard from Richard?" I asked Dominick when I joined them.

He bristled at me. "Why?"

"'Cause I invited him over. No offense, but I see you all the time at the gym. I haven't seen him in forever. Where is he at?"

"I don't know. Call him. I'm not his keeper." he told me.

"But you're his roommate..."  I trailed off, dialing Richard.

Bianca shook her head at him as the phone rang.

"Hello?" he finally answered.

"So you coming over or are you stopping by?" I asked him.

"Wasn't planning on it but that doesn't sound like a choice."

"It's a choice... But a bad one. You're roommate just bought over a few bottles and said you're not doing shit. Come help us drink and celebrate."

"Alright."

We decided to start the fire pit so I called Richard back to ask him to bring me some marshmallows. Forrest sweetly carried down an office chair from upstairs for Rocky to sit on outside. We all found spots on the deck. I told everyone my next project would be my backyard as we drank and talked.

I went to go answer the door for Richard when he finally arrived. I hugged him and escorted him outside to the backyard. He bought me the hugest campfire marshmallows I've ever seen and I pulled them open excitedly. As we roasted marshmallows and drank, Richard shared my blanket with me.

"Kinda disappointed to see you weren't wearing the red boots for me." he told me.

I laughed at him. It was a joke alluding to the time I met him to inspect my house and I shamelessly came on to him. Enough time had past so I could laugh about it without being mortified. "They were ginger- not red. And your completely safe. No plans to seduce you tonight."

"Shame." he smiled at me. "Are you dating anyone right now?"

I curled my lips as I thought about the answer.

"You're thinking about that way too long. Don't lie." he laughed at me.

"What are you lying about?" Bianca asked me.

"I'm not-" I started the same time Richard answered for me.

"Whether she's in a relationship." My phone rang so I escaped the question by answering the door for Sammy and Corey. I gave them a group hug before leading them to the backyard.

"...that's what she says, but she's not trying to date anyone else. One guy at the comedy show tried to talk to her-" Staci was gossiping about me when I came back.

"First of all, I'm not in a committed relationship with anyone. 2nd of all, stop telling my business Staci! And third of all, that guy was 5ft-nothing and on a date!" I exclaimed.

Staci laughed at me, good humoured. "He was my height, so 5'6 and he said it was a group thing. Their lady friends got them tickets-"

"Even worse- a grown man on a group date and didn't even buy the tickets." I shook my head.

That got everyone debating about whether a man always needs to pay the bills or if the woman should pick up the tab every now and again. As I got drinks for Sammy and Corey, Bianca mentioned to me, "Uriel is way past 6 feet."

"Uriel's trying to get laid." I snipped.

"And?" Bianca asked. I ignored her and returned to my spot next to Richard.

"I would pay for you if we went out." he flirted with me.

"Shut up!" I told him, cuddling under the covers with him.  With Richard, I knew it was harmless. He flirted with me all the time but never made a move. Mostly because I was tipsy, I flirted back.

Once everyone got settled in for the night or left, Bianca pulled me aside.

"Are you really thinking about going on a date with Richard?" she asked me.

"Nah. He was just playing around." I said as I straightened up the living room.

"Good." she nodded.

"Wait. I'm so confused. You want me to date around. Just not Richard? What's wrong with Richard?"

"Just trust me- don't go there with Richard. Keep your options open though. Like Uriel."

I didn't comment on that because I wasn't going to date Richard.

 "Why didn't you eat? I cooked for you- and don't say it's because of your diet because you inhaled a cheeseburger the other night."

"I ate." she held up an almost empty bag of marshmallows.

"Really?"

"I just wanted dessert." she offered with a shrug.

I was putting the remotes up when I saw her weird humidifier. Maybe the fumes were affecting her brain and appetite. "What the fuck is that?"

"It's a diffuser. Aromatherapy. That's yours to keep." she told me.

"Yay..." I said, sarcastically.

She threw the bag of marshmallows at me. I caught it, pulled one out and ate it.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Deadroses

"Turn the radio down
And lay you down too
I could be the one for you
I know we’re not in love
Love is vivid
No we’re not in love
You fall right in it for a week a month or maybe just a minute or a lifetime
What’s the difference- big bang or collision; love is blind
We had a vision though
Now we dead roses" Deadroses by Blackbear

I slept in as late as I could before I had to take Justine to her vet appointment the morning Christian left. He texted while I was sleeping saying he made it back to California. I texted him back before I left, thanking him again and wishing him good luck over the weekend.

At Justine's appointment, her vet assured me her behavior was normal. She told me that we can start giving her quarterly cleanings. When I expressed my concerns about how Justine wouldn't let me anywhere near her teeth, she explained that we could put her asleep for cleanings. I didn't know if it was lack of sleep, but I wasn't sold on the idea of knocking her out for cleanings 4 times a year.

I gave Sammy a call  afterward to update her on Justine but she didn't answer. Rocky called me the night before, so I called her back. On my way to work when I still hadn't heard from Sammy, I texted her about Justine instead. She responded "ok" but that was it. I didn't feel the need to track her down and explain anything, (especially if she wasn't willing to pick up the phone and talk) so I left it at that.

I was in the huddle room at work, rearranging next week schedule when Dr. Fahri joined me.

"I'm going to meet with Dr. Charles for an exit interview. Can you cover his clients?" He asked.

"Sure."

They talked for about half an hour before Vince came back. I went to join Dr. Fahri in the office.

"Is there a reason Dr. Charles is leaving so suddenly?" I asked him, sitting across from him.

"Another job. I saw it coming when he lost out on the promotion here; I just hoped he would hold off until after the season ended." Adil answered, handing me a folded letter.

"What's this?" I said, reading my name scribbled on the outside.

"Not sure- It was in the office last week. I put it away for you."

"Thank you." I said, putting it away as we stood.

 "I went over the schedule for next week. I think we'll be ok. I'm going to come in a few hours early to finish my work before Dr. Clayton leaves so I can help out with patients." I informed him while walking back to the clinic.

"Good. I'll be here as much as I can. The next onboarding schedule is in March. Hopefully I'll have a new hire by then." Dr. Fahri commented. "If you know a good candidate, forward their resume to me."

I told him I would before going on my lunch. I sent out emails to the group of therapists I knew regarding the position. I then opened the note Adil handed me. On the inside was Uriel's business card. Scribbled on the back in neat handwriting read:

It wasn't as good as your birthday cake but I owe you a slice from the wrap party. Give me a call.

I looked over the number, debating what I should do with it. It was kinda cool that he thought about me, but week old cake? Not only that, he claimed he didn't remember my birthday cake before. I knew I wasn't going to call him, but I put it away in my purse.

When I got home, I received a package from Jenna in the mail. It contained a chocolate perfect man and a AMC gift card.

I called Jenna and thanked her for the gift.

"You're welcome. It's a little tradition I do with my sisters." She said brightly.

"Why didn't you tell me about the tradition so I could have got you a gift too?" I asked.

"It would have ruined the surprise." Jenna said.

"Next year we want two gifts." I heard my brother say in the background.

"Don't listen to him. I don't know why he feels a need to get into my business."

"My sister." I heard him argue.

"Our sister." Jenna corrected him.

I smiled, proudly. "I loved it and I'm going to get you a present this year."

"You can still get me something that'll cost nothing but your time." she stated.

"What do you need?" I asked.

"Check in on Amanda. I'm concerned about her being alone all the time."

"Done! I actually saw her earlier this week. I invited her to hang out this weekend, but she said she had to work. I try to include her in stuff I'm doing all the time, but she normally shuts me down." I explained.

"She's introverted- My mom and I have to force her to socialize. If you keep trying, I'll appreciate it." Jenna requested.

"I'll do you one better- I'll kidnap her tomorrow and make her see a movie with me." I promised.

Jenna laughed. "Thank you. Let me know how it goes."

That evening I finally got around to calling Ethan to see what EJ was up to and if he wanted to spend the night on Saturday. He informed me it was his mom's weekend with him and he had a birthday party on Saturday. Afterwards, I gave Christian a call. It went to voicemail.

I stayed up, waiting for him to call me back, while searching for a gift for Jenna and Cam. I found a cute Mr. and Mrs. red decorative pillows that I thought would be great for Jenna's and Cam's first Valentine as a married couple.

When Christian still hadn't texted or call, I went on his Instagram. I noticed he posted pictures of my dinning room when he set up dinner for me. He captioned them simply:

Something special for someone special.

He also posted pictures of him out with musicians in a night club, announcements of were he was djing and links and clips of interviews he did. I went back and listen to the interviews he had over Superbowl weekend and his single release party. I played some of the music he said inspired his album.

One artist he mentioned was Blackbear. His album Deadroses gave me a great idea for a Valentine's present for Christian. I called Jennifer to get the address to send it and paid an outrageous fee to make sure the dozen chocolate roses were delivered by Sunday. I went to bed a little after 1am after receiving no response from Christian.

Saturday morning, I woke up and saw I had a missed call from Christian. I tried to call but no answer. I sent him a text instead.

Me: Good luck with your show tonight. Tell Rihanna I said "Hey"

After breakfast, Justine and I went on an extra long run at a dog park. While she played around, Christian texted me back.

Christian: Just hey?

Me: You can add bae to that.

Christian: Bae?

Me: She'll know what's up {heart eyes emoji}

Christian: I need to know what's up. {Lips, lips, tongue, tongue emojis}

Me: Nothing at all {angel, lips sealed emoji}

I waited 30 minutes for him to respond- when he didn't we left the park. Once we got home, I gave Justine a bath and once again attempted to brush her teeth, but it was not working. I gave up and took a long shower. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning my house, listening to more music. My doorbell rang and I answered it for Sammy.

"Hey, what's up?" I smiled, letting her in.

"Am I interrupting anything?" She asked.

"Not at all. Come in." I said, leading her to the leaving room and silencing the music on my phone. She sat down on the couch while I sat on the floor.

"So how long have you and Christian been together?" Sammy narrowed her eyes at me.

"We're not together." I said, truthfully, at least, partially. We weren't together currently but I had no idea what the future would bring.

"So he's buying you jewelry, coming out and setting up dinners just because?"

"Not just because. He likes me."

"Do you like him too?"

"I don't know yet. I decided to get to know him better and find out."

She breathed out deeply and gave me a reproachful look. "Let's just take Trevor out of the equation even though we both know he's very much still in it. What you know about Christian is all the shady things he's done: What else do you need to know?"

"I would hate if anyone judged me off my past, wouldn't you?" I challenged her.

She shook her head. "Do whatever you want. I'm just stating my opinion."

I cocked my head at her, thrown off by her attitude. "Based off the time we spent together thus far, I want to spend more time with him. Before I went to San Francisco, you were all for me dating. I'm just curious: what changed? "

"I never thought you would really date Christian. I thought you hanging out with someone else would help you come to your senses and realize what you had with Trevor."

I frowned at her then. "I realize what I had with Trevor. I decided to move on just like he has."

"He hasn't; just like you haven't. He will though and I'm afraid you're going to regret it too late."

I stretched my legs out, considering her words before I responded. "What's the worst that can happen- I end up alone? I'm good by myself. I hope we'll be good too whatever I decide."

"We're fine." Sammy said, simply.

I nodded. "Ok. You excited about the show with Corey tonight?"

"I'm excited he's excited. I betta go so I can go get ready." she said standing up.

"Alright. Tell Corey I said hello." I followed her.

After she left, I saw I had a missed call from Christian. I groaned out loud when I called back and got no response. I called Staci next to finalize our plans for the evening. She was dropping her daughter off and heading my way. Since she wasn't going to have Cherish, I asked if she wanted to go out tonight. After debating where we could go that wouldn't be too crowded, we stuck to our original plan to hang at my place with food and booze and catch a movie Sunday. Since we chose to see The Revenant, we decided to have a Leonardo DiCaprio night with Italian food.

When Staci arrived, we placed an order to the Italian place I loved in Carrollton. Before we went to pick it up, I stopped by Amanda's place. It was so weird being at Trevor's, well, our old place but I shook it off and focused on my task. I knocked on the door, waited for awhile before the door opened. I was shocked to see a short guy answer the door.

"Umm is Amanda home?" I asked.

"Yeah. Mandi!" he called to the back before going back to the couch in front of a video game. "Y'all wanna come in?" he said, when he saw me still standing at the front door.

Staci looked at me. "Um yeah. Thanks." I said, leading the way.

When Amanda saw me at door, she paused, her eyes widen in shock. I gave her a smile. "I was coming to force you to hang out with us. I didn't know you had company."

"Yeah. Maybe some other time." Amanda declined quickly, looking over at her friend nervously.

"Ok. I'll catch you at another time." I looked at her friend too.

"Nice to meet you..." Staci trailed off, suggestively.

"Paul." he looked up from the game, waving his hand, still holding the controller.

"Paul." I finished giving Amanda a knowing look. She looked away. "Ok. Bye."

"Who's Paul?" Staci asked me when we left.

"Ex-boyfriend."

"Ahh... Looked pretty comfortable for an ex."

"I know!" I agreed as we headed to pick up the food.

"What's Cherish up to?" I asked when we were settled in front off the TV with our food at my house. Our first movie was Staci's pick, and she choose the sappy romantic film Titanic.

"At a sleepover with her friends. I'm just waiting for one of them to post a picture with a boy so I can go pick her up." Staci answered as she checked her phone. I chuckled at her.

After Titanic, we watched my movie choice: The Wolf of Wall Street.

"That's bae right there." I grinned at the screen.

"Get in line. Who doesn't want Leo's fine ass?"

"No! I love Jonah Hill. He's so fucking cute and funny."

She looked at me sideways. "You really don't have a type huh?"

"Yes, I do. I love beautiful souls."

"Me too... Just wrapped in a hard, sexy body."

"You're stupid!" I laughed at her. "How's the online dating going anyway?"

"No real contenders at the time. I'm talking to a few guys- Including Daniel." Staci revealed.

"Daniel? Really?" He was the guy that worked with Ethan. Apparently they hit it off at his birthday party.

"Yeah, even though he bailed out of plans so fast when he realized it was Valentine's day. I wanted to tell him to chill, no one's trying to be in a relationship with you." Staci complained.

"Ethan mention before he wasn't a commitment kinda guy." I warned her.

"That's fine with me. Dating, especially online dating, is a numbers game. I'm not looking to commit to one guy unless I can see a future with him." Staci declared.

Our last movie of the night was The Great Gatsby because we both feel asleep on the couch before it ended. I was awakened at 4am by my phone ringing. When I saw it was Christian, I went to my room and answered it.

"Hey..." I said, running a hand through my hair before sitting on the bed.

"Hey, sorry for walking you up. I wanted to give you a call back earlier- it's been hectic."

"It's cool. I know your busy. It's the Grammy's." I yawned.

"Go back to sleep. I'll talk to you later. Happy Valentine's Day."

"Happy Valentine's Day." I replied before hanging up and going to sleep in my bed.


The next morning, we got up and Staci went to a boxing session with me. We worked off the booze and food we ate before we planned to eat more at the movies.

"Let's go to the movies at the mall. We can pick up some Valentine's sales." Staci suggested as we drove back to my place.

I agreed. At home, Rocky called, asking me if I wanted tickets to a comedy show that night. Staci was more than willing to skip the movies in favor of the show.

As soon as we showered and changed, we headed to Rocky's place together. When we got there, Forrest let us in.

"Hey! Happy Valentine's Day!" I said, giving him a one arm side hug. "What are y'all up to today?"

"Since Rocky didn't want to go to the show, we're going to hang out here-watch some stand up on Netflix." he explained.

"Aw, you're a good dude!" I complimented him.

"Especially for passing the tickets on to us." Staci agreed.

"It wasn't his idea- He was going to try to resell them." Rocky busted him, joining us from her bedroom.

"Really Forrest?" I narrowed my eyes at him while Staci laughed.

He grinned. "I didn't though. You're welcome."

Rocky handed me the tickets before sitting next to Forrest on the couch. He automatically put his hand out to help her sit down comfortably, asking if she needed a pillow or blanket.

"No. I'm good. Show her the post." she said, with a smile.

"What post?" I asked.

"Have you been on Instagram today?" he asked me, pulling out his phone.

"Not at all." I looked over his shoulder.

"No fucking way!" I gasped when he showed me Jordan's Instagram.

"What?" Staci asked, while Rocky laughed.

"Remember Jordan and that guy Blake she's been dating for like a minute?"

"Yeah?"

I showed her Jordan's lastest post, her ring finger sporting a beautiful diamond and the caption: I said yes!!!

"They're engaged!"

"Geez. That was fast." Staci commented.

"I know!" I agreed.

"We think she's pregnant." Rocky smiled.

"I didn't say that. I said I wouldn't be surprised if she was." Forrest said.

"You didn't know about the proposal?" I asked him, pulling out my phone.

"Not at all." he shook his head.

"Would you have tried to talk him out of it?" Staci asked, noisily.

Forrest just continued to shake his head. "I should call and congratulate him. Be right back." He said, walking to the den.

I went though my Instagram quickly to see what else I missed. Amber posted a picture of the dinner she had with Will. Dino and Jake posted a cute candid picture on theirs, and Mia and Dominick were on a date based off her picture tagging him in it. Sammy also posted a picture of Corey smiling at a bar with the caption:

2nd Valentine's Day together. Anyone can buy things to make you feel special, only a special someone makes you feel that way without doing anything. I realize what we have is special and I wouldn't trade it in for anything else. We've been through a lot of ups and downs but there is no one I'd rather be with. It's easier to break up and move on to the next than it is to stick it out and make it work. I stick by him because we have love for each other. That's all that matters.
#Valentine'sDay#CantBuySpecial#AppericateWhatYouHave

I rolled my eyes at her lengthy and shady post. I keep scrolling and saw what Christian posted. He added a picture of 4 meet and greet passes and tickets to the Rihanna concert with the caption: #TellHerHeyYourself

I smiled at his post and liked it before showing Staci and Rocky.

"Y'all coming with me to see Rihanna?" I asked.

"Yasss!!!" Staci exclaimed, excited.

I looked at Rocky and she rubbed her stomach. "Ace will be here in April, so no"

"Brandon can watch him for the night." I pouted.

"I'm breastfeeding."

"I got you a breast pump. You're good." Staci informed her.

"I'm gonna pass." Rocky declined."So what's going on with you and Christian right now?" she asked, curiously.

I briefly filled them in on Christian's visit to see me and the conversation we had over dinner.

"Ohmigosh! You're Christian's Daisy!" Staci declared when I finished.

"Huh?"

"Think about it-He's been in love with you forever, waiting for you to give him a chance to make you happy. You're the Daisy to his Gatsby."

"I don't think he's been in love with her-" Rocky started.

"Thank you!" I agreed.

"But he's definitely was in lust back in college." she continued.

I looked at her, surprised. "You knew he liked me in college?"

She shrugged. "I knew he wanted to hook up. I don't know about like."

"Why didn't you tell me?" I questioned her.

"How many times did I tell you there were other guys on campus that wanted to date you?"

"I thought that was just something you were saying to make me feel better."

"I wouldn't lie to you to make you feel better."

"You should have given me specific names!"

"Would it have mattered?" She raised an eyebrow at me. 

"Whatever." I refused to answer the question. "So that's what we're doing- hanging out, spending time- I'm not sure what to call it." I finished.

"Dating." Staci labeled it for me while Rocky raised an eyebrow at me.

"I guess." I shrugged. It was weird hearing that we were dating.

"There nothing wrong with dating casually." Staci told me.

"I just don't want to lead him on. He said something about making new memories to replace the ones I have with Trevor. I don't know if that's how it will work." I looked to Rocky for her perspective.

"It's not leading him on as long as you're telling him the truth." she said.

"I'm a strong believer if it's meant to happen, it will happen. Just wait and see what happens." Staci encouraged me.

After saying goodbye to Forrest and Rocky, we headed to the mall. We cut out plans to see a movie in favor to finding new outfits for the show that night.

I didn't see anything I loved besides a burgundy pair of Fenty Puma Creepers. They were a collaboration between Rihanna and Puma. I really didn't need anymore sneakers, but I thought they would be cool to wear at the Rihanna concert and bought them as a Valentine's gift to myself. We went back to my place and Staci left to pick up her daughter. We made plans for me to pick her up at her place for the show. I was eating leftovers when Bianca called me.

"Hey cuz! Happy Valentine's Day." I told her, cheerfully.

"Happy Valentine's day! Guess what I got for Valentine's day?"

"Umm... A jet?" I answered.

"No. Close... an all expense paid trip to Dallas to see my favorite cousin." Bianca responded, like a game show host.

"First of all, I'm your only cousin. Second, how is that close to a jet? And third, when are you finally coming to see me?"

I got her itinerary for the following week and made mental notes moving things around in my schedule. When I got off the phone, I took a shower, washed my hair and started to get ready for the show.

When I was ready, I admired my curves in my ripped black jeans and white fitted top, my hair falling in loose waves pass my shoulders and my make-up highlighting the amber in my hazel eyes and the fullness of my rose colored lips. The final touch was my new shoes. Even though it was Valentine's and I had no date, I was so excited to go out and have a good time with Staci.

After saying hello to Cherish and taking a ton of pictures and videos with Staci, we headed to the comedy show. On the drive over, Staci Snapchatted us as we sang along to the radio. When we arrived and struggled to find a parking space, my phone rang. I could tell it was Christian Face timing me by the ring, so I had Staci answer while I parked.

"Hello Christian!" she sang on the phone while I laughed at her.

"Hey... Is Lily available?"  Christian asked

"Yeah, sure. Your Daisy is right here!" she laughed.

"Daisy? Where's Lily?" I could hear the confusion in his voice.

"I'm right here!" I called. I parked and turn the car off.

"I just realized you both have flower names. That's perfect." Staci realized, laughing out loud.

I took the phone from her and smiled at him. He was in a bright, white room- his hair looked perfectly tousled and his face was clean shaven. He looked really great.

"That's Staci... Ignore her." I instructed him.

"Wow... You look great. What are you up to?"

"I was just thinking the same about you. Staci and I are going to comedy show tonight. Are you getting ready for your club appearance?"

"Yeah, we're about to head out. I wanted to let you know I got your gift. You sent me a dead roses?" Christian asked, smiling.

"Technically." I smiled, thrilled that he got it. I included lyrics from the song, but I hoped he could get the chocolate/dead roses reference.

"You like Blackbear?"

"I listen to his album and I like him now. Honestly I never heard of him until I stanned you hard the other night. Don't be creeped out." I admitted.

His smile brightened. "Definitely not creeped out-I'm glad you like it. I'll send you some of my playlists to listen to."

"I would love that- I'll probably still stalk you a little bit." I smiled back at him.

He laughed and we smiled at each other for a moment before he cleared his throat."I don't wanna hold y'all up. I just wanted to thank you."

"Thank you for the Rihanna tickets. I'll probably be up tonight if you wanna call later."

"I have no idea when I'm gonna be done so get some rest. Happy Valentine's day beautiful. Have fun."

"You too. Goodnight."

I hung up and Staci was watching me with a side grin. "That Christian... He's just soooo cool?" she fanned herself, mocking Daisy from The Great Gatsby.

"Leave the comedy to the professionals. Let's go!" I smiled as we got out the car.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Try a Little Tenderness



"You've got to squeeze her, don't tease her, never leave
You've got to hold her and rub her softly
Try a little tenderness, ooh yeah yeah yeah
You've got to rub her gentle man, all you gotta do, no no
You've got to love her, squeeze her, don't tease her
Gotta try nah nah nah, try
Try a little tenderness, yeah, watch her groove
You've gotta to know what to do, man
Take this advice" Try A Little Tenderness by Otis Redding


***FLASHBACK***

College Years

I was in the closet, halfway through Jay Z's and Kayne's new joint album, when the doors yanked open. I specifically picked the hall closet in the apartment Trevor shared with Bilal and Donovan because no one used it. It contained the water heater, unused washer and dryer connections, and shelves that were filled with random junk. It also had just enough room for me to sit sideways, stretch my legs and close the folding doors. It was perfect for hiding out- the only way someone would find me was if they were looking. It took an extraordinary amount of effort to raise my droopy eyes to see who disrupted my solitude.

I looked up to see Christian mouthing something, but I didn't hear what he said.

"Huh?!?!" I exclaimed. He took an ear bud out of my ear.

"What are you doing in here?" Christian asked.

"What are you doing in here?" I rebutted, pausing my music, sounding drunk to my own ears.

Shit. Be cool Lily

"I need my charger for my laptop. It's about to die." Christian said, reaching above me to retrieve his backpack.

I smiled, hoping he would just get his bag and go. "Well you don't want that to happen. The party would suck without music."

"Are you coming back out or are you going to continue to hide in the closet?"

"I'm not hiding." I lied. I was so hiding from the stupid Valentine's party. I hated Valentine's day. I normally spent it avoiding going out at all cost and vegging out with comedy movies.  But, it was my last Valentine's day at Baylor and that's how Trevor talked me into it.

The guys threw a small get together in their off campus apartment. I made myself up in a pink short and backless dress. I swiped on a matching pink lipstick, curled my hair and came to the party determined to have a good time. I was doing well at first- the red punch Donovan mixed up had me feeling great. I spent my time chatting with Trevor and enjoying the music Christian was playing from the couch.

As the punch trickled down, someone decided it would be a good idea to go swimming. Everyone stripped down to their underwear and jumped in the pool. I wasn't doing that (even if I had decided to wear a bra in the backless dress) so I sat down, severely overdressed in my Pepto pink dress and watched. When everyone started to play chicken or make out, I escaped back to the apartment.

I didn't want to watch everyone couple up half naked in the pool nor did I want to be sitting in the apartment by myself like a loner when everyone came back. I thought about leaving, but I came with Tonya and Chelsea who were playing chicken with Trevor and Donovan. I was sober enough to know that walking back by myself was a bad idea. So I grabbed another cup of punch, my phone and headed for the closet. I thought I could just slip back out unnoticed once I heard everyone return, but I was wrong.

Christian raised an eyebrow at me. "So what are you doing if you're not hiding?"

I said the first thing that came into my mind. "Channeling R. Kelly."

Thankfully, Christian face broke out in a smile. "Trapped in the Closet..." he sang to me.

I beamed, excited that he caught on. "I love that song-it was so funny. The singing confrontations? The different voices? The midget?"

Christian shook his head. "I forgot about the midget."

"Have you ever watched Trapped in the Closet while trapped in a closet?" I grinned.

"Never." he said, his smile widen as I motioned for him to join me. He came inside as I got on my knees to shut the doors behind him. He sat on the floor then watched me, clearly amused as I struggled to sit back down. The short length and snug fit of the dress on my thighs made it impossible to cross my legs in the space without flashing him. He placed my legs over his lap, saving me the trouble. I got comfortable and pulled up the videos on YouTube.

"Prepare to be amazed." I said before pressing play. By the end, we were both cracking up laughing.

"R. Kelly is a musical mastermind." Christian declared.

I giggled. "I know right? Much better than the music you were playing." I complained, jokingly.

When he frowned, clearly offended, I quickly added. "I'm just kidding. You're mix was really good."

"I created some of my own beats- it's amateur mixing. It's cool if you don't like it." He claimed, but his face said differently. I put my hand on his shoulder.

"I do like it. Really. I'm just hanging out in here 'cause I didn't want to get half naked and I don't have anyone to hook up with." I blurted, than blushed for sounding so pathetic. "I loved how you did You're the One. The beat change was so sexy." I added quickly.

His smile returned. "The beat was made from a girl orgasming."

"What? How?" I sputtered, while my face blazed.

"I slowed it down and chopped it into a beat. Kinda like how Kanye uses vocals." Christian revealed.

"That's genius! I love Kanye. I was just listening to Watch the Throne."

"Great Album." he nodded.

"What's your favorite song?"

"Otis. The Otis Redding sample reminded me of The College Dropout" Christian answered.

"Who's Otis Redding?"

"The guy singing the intro." he pulled out his phone. "I'll play some of his stuff for you."

"Ok."

He played a couple of R&B songs- soulful ballads.

"Soooo sloooow." I leaned my head against his shoulder and took another sip of my drink.

"Yeah, kinda fits into this whole romantic Valentine's mood I'm trying to set here."

I scoffed. Stupid holiday. There was nothing fucking romantic about Valentine's day. It sucked. When I realized I was sneering to myself, I hid my bad thoughts with a fake smile.

"Watch the Throne would fit the mood. Think about it- Kanye and Jay Z are amazingly talented on their own but are able to come together and make magic. That's the kind of relationship I want."

"You think Trevor would get that?"

"Who fucking cares?" I said, bitterly as I gulped down my drink. He wouldn't get anything about a committed relationship.

"It's his party. Gotta play to the crowd." Christian clarified, causing me to blush.

"All he and the crowd are concerned with is hooking up. I think that mood is set with this punch: no music necessary." I supported my defensiveness.

"And how many cups have you had?" he grinned.

"Enough to be hiding in a closet." I grinned too. "Shouldn't you be getting back to the party?"

"Apparently they don't need the music remember?"

I sipped my drink, stalling to come up with an answer.

"Why don't you have a boyfriend?" he asked me, out of nowhere.

I blushed. Probably because I spent the last years obsessing over Trevor. I finally convinced myself to get over it- but I was constantly reminding myself staying just friends with Trevor was for the best. "Umm. No point I guess." I replied instead, noncommittally, gulping down the rest of my drink.

"What do you mean? Not a monogamous kinda girl?"

I coughed on the drink I was swallowing.

Right, I couldn't even get one date- much less multiple dates.

"I mean, why settled down if I'm not looking to get married anytime soon?" I said, with fake bravo. He nodded in agreement, so I continued. "I graduate this year. My plans are to move to Dallas for grad school then back to California after that. Doesn't make sense to try to fit a boyfriend into the plans. Besides, the guy I like doesn't wanna fit anyway-" I cut myself off, my face burning up. How many times was I going to embrass myself in front of Christian.

There was a long awkward pause until he finally spoke again.

"So what are you going to grad school for?" Christian asked, breaking the silence.

"Physical therapy." I said, thankful for a subject change.

"Nice. You're from California right?"

"West coast is the best coast." I confirmed with a valley girl accent and a little dance, knowing he was from New York.

"Fuck outta here!" he said, in a heavy accent that made me laugh.

"Are you moving back to New York after you graduate?"

"Probably. I don't know what I'm doing honestly."

"Making music?"

"Making music doesn't pay bills unless you're successful."

"So? Being a barista pays bills. You can do that and make music."

"My mom will be so proud of me- took out student loans for me to be a barista."

"Fine. Take your degree, and manage a coffee shop. Then you can play your music there- like cool music, not the boring shit they normally play. Like something to wake you up! Make beats with like a rooster... No, coffee sounds!"

"Coffee sounds?"

"Yes! Grinding beans, the drip sound, that ahhh sound you make when you sip it. If you can use an orgasm, you can use that ahhh sound right?"

"I don't know. Do it again and I'll record it and see." he said, holding out his phone.

"No way!" I gasped.

"C'mon..." he said, holding the phone to my lips.

I pressed my lips closed to keep from laughing in his phone.

He played the recording of me saying "No way" back to me. "That's gonna be the beat then. Imma name it Closet Chronicles."

I covered my mouth with my hand and pushed the closet doors open. I was scrambling to get away from Christian as he laughed.

"What are you doing in the closet?" I turned around to see Trevor coming out of his room with a handful of towels. He dropped them when he saw me struggling and came to help me up. Once I was up, he held onto my arm to keep me steady and looked in Christian's direction towards the closet. I took that opportunity to sneak a quick glance over him like I always did. His wet curls were slicked back over his head and a damp shirt clung to his lean torso deliciously.

"What were y'all doing?" Trevor demanded. I looked at his face, ready to explain but his blue eyes were laser focused on me- rendering me unable to form the words.

"Recording Closet Chronicles. Thanks Lily" Christian answered dryly.

"You better not!" I pointed my finger at him as he stood up effortlessly.

Trevor's grip tightened on my arm. "What did you record?" he demanded.

"Nothing. He said he's going to use my voice as a beat but he's not!"

"I won't." Christian promised, slinging his bag over his back. A hard glare was on his face as he looked at Trevor and me. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion.

Was he upset about not being able to use my voice? I thought he was joking.

"What were y'all doing in there?" Trevor repeated so I turned to him.

"We were watching Trapped in the Closet. It's like a hip hopera. I'll show you later." I promised Trevor.

"Why aren't you outside with us?" Trevor asked.

"Umm, because I didn't wanna drown or make out with anyone, so the apartment was the safest place." I replied.

"But the closet? You can go lay down in my room." he offered.

"I don't wanna cock block you by taking your bed." I countered.

"You're good. I'll be in there in a little bit." Trevor said.

I smiled at him, thrilled. "Ok." I turned to Christian and gave him a hug, hoping there was no hard feelings about the recording. "Goodnight. Play some Kanye for me when you go back outside."

"Only if you let me finish Closet Chronicles." He said, stepping away from me and my hug.

"You can, just not with me! Happy Valentine's day." I called over my shoulder as Trevor pulled me to his room.

He gave me a little wave in return.



***PRESENT DAY***



When I returned home from my appointment, the smell of pancakes hit me as I walked in kitchen.

"Hey." I said softly as I joined Christian at the table. Justine was eating away enthusiastically at her bowl. I looked over her head, trying to make out what she was eating.

"Hey. How was it?" Christian responded, looking up from his phone.

"It was good. What is she eating?"

"I made her eggs. You said soft foods only right?" Christian asked.

"Right. I haven't been giving her table food though. No wonder she didn't greet me at the door."

Christian offering me a plate of food. "I figured you needed pancakes."

"I'm not that hungover. I wish I was. It would make this talk a lot easier." I blabbed, nervously, building up my confidence. "Thank you. This looks great."

"Thank you for having a stocked kitchen. It's been a minute since I've been in one that's really used- not just a show room."

"Jennifer doesn't cook?"

"Her kitchen is where she leaves the takeout menus."

"You're welcomed here anytime. I don't even remember buying pancake mix." I said, placing a bite into my mouth.

"Box pancakes are trash. It's easy to make them from scratch."

I began after I swallowed. "Whatever. These may taste better but they are not as easy as just adding water."

"It's literally flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, milk and eggs."

"Well, I'm not fancy like you."

"This is fancy?"

"Do you see how excited my dog is for eggs?" I pointed at Justine. She was licking her bowl clean. We both smiled at her and I relaxed.

I continued to eat in silence until he spoke up again. "So..."

"So..." I said, placing my fork down.

"About last night-"

"I'm really sorry." I cut him off.

"You apologized already."

"For drinking and throwing myself at you; then getting mad when you rejected me. I need to apologize for lying."

"Lying about what?"

"About Trevor." he just stared at me so I continued quickly. "When he was here, we had a... I don't even know what to call it. I asked him to leave so we didn't get into a fight so I guess it was a misunderstanding."

"About?"

I decided the best approach would be to just get it all out in the open."You. He thought I was dating you. Again. Then he suggested that I didn't want Justine and offered to take her away. On top of that I found out he was dating. That inspired my behavior last night. I'm sorry for trying to use you to feel better about him. I wish I didn't care, but I still do right now. I wanna be over him, but I'm not. I'm so sorry." I repeated.

"Don't ever be sorry for being honest with me. Even when I don't want to hear it, I need to hear it, ya know." Christian said.

"I know. The reason I'm telling you all this is because I do want you as my friend. And I know I haven't been fair to you. I swear, I'm not this big of a mess. I'm working on it. I will be a true friend to you." I promised.

"Ok." he just nodded.

"Ok..." I repeated. I was unable to read the expression on his face, but just feeling the tension between us made me doubt being friends. It made me lose my appetite. I stood up and pushed my plate away. "I gotta get ready for work. I can leave Justine with Amber-"

"She's fine. My flight leaves in the morning-If you don't mind me crashing?"

"Of course not. Thank you Christian."



At work, I was so busy catching up I didn't have time to dwell on everything else going on. I called my daily group huddle and got caught up with everyone. Vince, one of the physical therapist on the night team, informed me this would be his last week by inviting everyone out for drinks Friday. I nodded, figuring he must have put his notice in with Dr. Clayton or Dr. Fahri before I went on vacation. When I spoke to Dr. Clayton before he left, he had no idea.

I spent the next hour in email jail, responding to request and updating schedules. I then found Vince's resignation notice, sent to me the day after I left for vacation. It wasn't even 2 weeks notice. I forwarded it to Dr. Fahri right away and gave him a call. When he didn't answer, I left a message. After checking on the clients and therapists, I went to the huddle board, going over next week's schedule minus Vince.

By the time I left for work, I was exhausted, but not really thrilled to go back home. I wasn't looking forward to another awkward exchange with Christian before he left and quite possibly never talked to me again. I sucked it up, comforting myself with the fact that at least I was being honest with him. What he did with it was his choice- I wasn't going to stress over something I couldn't control.

I came in through the garage and my hopes of friendship reignited at the aroma of cooked food in my house. You didn't cook for someone you were never going to speak to again right? I headed towards the kitchen, but froze when I saw a strange man, in a chef jacket, cooking in various pots and pans. There was also a string quartet setting up in the entry way to the front door.

"Christian?!?" I called out, alarmed. Justine came running from the dinning room and I meet her halfway, rubbing her down. I looked up when Christian approached from the dinning room as well. I gasped when I saw what he did to the room.

The table was set with a burgundy runner, fine white China with a gold trim, gold linens, and rose petals scattered across the table. I don't even know how he dimmed the lights, but that and tea lights candles gave the room a romantic, soft glow.

"What the hell is this?" I gasped.

"It's dinner. I want to show you and Justine fancy." Christian replied.

"But... We talked about this earlier. Being friends. This does not look like friendly dinner. Am I wrong?"

"You did a lot of talking. Think you can have dinner, relax and listen to me?" He said, not answering my question.

"Ok." I nodded, both reluctant and excited at the same time.

"Follow me." he said, leading me to the dinning room. I stopped when we got there, taking in the extravagance of the beautiful decor. I looked him over in his dark skinny jeans, black long sleeve shirt and black Yeezy Boost."I should go change. What do I change into?"

"Whatever you want." he smiled softly at me.

"Right. Ok. Be right back." I went into my room and took a quick shower. I examined my clothes in my closet- I couldn't pull of jeans and a shirt like Christian but a cocktail dress seemed like too much at home. I picked out a long sleeved knit black dress I had hanging up. I pulled my hair back in a bun before applying light makeup, and the jewelry Christian got me. The longest thing I debated were the shoes- it felt weird to wear them at home, but too strange to walk around barefoot with everyone else fully dressed so I slipped on gold flip flops.


I made my way back to the dining room where Christian was waiting. He stood up when I approached.

"You look beautiful." he sat, pulling out the chair across from him.

"This is beautiful!" I commented, sitting down. When he sat down too, the quartet started playing.

The chef appeared bringing over our appetizer of seared ahi tuna. He even brought Justine a portion as well.

"I can't believe people really do this. Like private chefs? This is crazy." I exclaimed.

"My mom was a personal chef." he reminded me.

"I know, but she worked for families not random dinner dates."

"There you go; Assuming this is a date." he said with a little smile.

"I'm gonna shut up and eat now." I muttered, concentrating on my food.

Everything was delicious. We shared a crab and basil stuffed lobster tail and a New York strip steak. Justine had ground beef and barley with rice and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. She ate with no problems. We shared a bottle of wine, but I stuck to my one glass that I didn't even finish. For dessert we sampled a trio of three different molten lava cakes.

"This was... I don't even have the words. More than incredible. I can't believe you did this for me. Thank you Christian." I looked at him amazed.

Christian looked me straight in the eyes. "I'm doing what I wished I would have done back in college."

"What's that?"

"Show you how I feel."

"Christian-"

"Let me finish. I liked you back then, I just knew you liked Trevor so I didn't pursue it. I get that you're still working through your feelings. I walked away back then-I'm saying let me be here for you now until you've moved on from him."

"I don't know when that'll happen Christian." I warned him.

"I get that. You've spent a lot of time and have a lot of memories with him. I don't expect it to happen overnight. I just want a chance to spend time with you; Maybe make some memories of our own."

Before I could respond, the chef joined us, asking if we needed anything else. Christian got up to walk him out, giving me a chance to think over what he said. I figured spending time with someone who was honest with me and appreciated me being honest back wouldn't hurt.

Christian walked over to the quartet. After he spoke to them, they began playing a new song. It took me awhile to recognize the song, but when I did I smiled at Christian."Try A Little Tenderness?"

He smiled back. "Good job." He sat down next to me instead of across from me.

"This is really not fair. Even if I wanted to say no to you, how can I to someone who makes me pancakes, hires a private chef and a quartet for dinner?"

"Do you want to say no to me?" he asked me.

I hid my smile, biting my lip. "No."

"Then let me show you how you deserve to be treated."

I stared at him, not believing I never acknowledge how handsome he was. Yeah, I've acknowledge his body, but his face was pretty amazing too.

"Did you know your eyes have a little green in them?" I asked, admiringly.

"Kinda sad you didn't know that before you kissed me the first time." He scolded me.

"No fair. I was drunk. It doesn't count."

He placed his hand on the side of my face, brushing his thumb against my lower lip. "Are you sober enough to make it count?"

I nodded, all of a sudden a little shy. "Completely."

He leaned in close to me, close enough so I could feel his breath on my lips. He paused, watching me and giving me chance to pull away. I suddenly felt overwhelmed- I was over thinking everything. Did I put my hand around his neck and smile to show him I was ready? Should I just move in the rest of the way? A few agonizing moments later, he made the decision for me by pressing his lips against mine, gently but firm. Just long enough to make me have to catch my breath afterwards.

"You have no idea how many times I fantasized about kissing you." he said, smiling against my lips. "Maybe more than kissing." he confessed.

"Can we keep it at kissing for now? Especially while the quartet is here?" I asked.

"You want me to get rid of them?"

"Is it time for them to go?"

He looked down at his phone. "We got about an hour."

"Think they know any Rihanna?"

"I doubt it, but you can ask."

They did and they played We Found Love as we retired to the living room. We enjoyed the last hour, seeing who could identify the song first. When I wasn't familiar with a song, he put it on a playlist for me to listen to later. After the hour was up, we stayed up talking until he had to leave for his flight. He told me he had to be back in LA for the Grammy's. I was so happy for him when he informed me a song he worked on was nominated. He played it off like he didn't contribute much to the song, but I told him how proud I was of him.

I walked him to the door when it was time for him to leave to catch his flight.

We didn't kiss goodbye, I just gave him an extra long hug and told him I would see him soon.

"It's early, but Happy Valentine's day." Christian said before he left.

"Happy Valentine's day." I told him back with a wave goodbye.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Same Ol' Mistakes

"Feel like a brand new person, (But you'll make the same old mistakes)
Well I don't care I'm in love, (Stop before it's too late I know)
Feel like a brand new person, (But you'll make the same old mistakes)
So how do I know when it's right? (You don't have what it takes)
Stop before it's too late"

Same Ol' Mistake by Rihanna

"About time you got home! I need your long ass arms." Sammy called to me when I returned from grocery shopping.

I set my bags on the kitchen floor before walking to the counter height kitchen table she was working at. I left Justine in Sammy's care while I finished up a few errands I had to do before going back to work. She was also setting up for her next Honey Bee video. She already moved my kitchen appliances off the open shelves behind the table and replaced them with bottles of alcohol so that it looked like a makeshift bar. Currently, she was kneeling on a bar chair, struggling to hang dangling hearts from the ceiling.

"It's my last day of vacation; Didn't you think that maybe I just wanted to chill?" I complained, rubbing Justine as she jumped excitedly on my legs. We had a few more days of antibiotics and her follow up appointment with her vet Friday morning, but she was back to her normal fun loving self.

"Wasn't your ass just on vacation? You had enough chill time." Sammy questioned me back.

I ignored her, starting to empty out my bags on the table she was trying to decorate.

"Fine. I'll put your shit up, you put my shit up." She bargained, hopping down from the chair.

"Done." I agreed. While she started to put the groceries away, I headed to the garage. After I retrieved my step ladder, I came back to the kitchen.

"You bitch." she complained. I chuckled as I climbed up the ladder and hung the dangling hearts. When I was finished, I joined Sammy putting food away.

"Who's all is coming over for the video today?" I asked.

"Rose and Calle are the honey bees in this video. Amanda is coming over after she gets off from work to film." Sammy answered.

"Amanda filmed the first one?" I didn't know Sammy and Amanda talked to one another- much less filmed videos in my kitchen together while I was away.

"Yeah, Trevor said she would be able to help me out. He was right." She paused to watch my reaction.

I tried to have none. "Oh. Ok. Cool. I'll be back. I'm gonna brush Justine's teeth."

My errands on my to do list included a stop at a pet store. They had a huge section of Veterinary Oral Health Council approved food, chew toys and rinses. I wanted to wait until I talked to my vet before I bought any of those, but I did pick up a tooth brush, tooth paste and dental wipes that I was eager to try out on Justine.

I took Justine to my room and brushed my teeth, trying to give her an demonstration to what I would do to her. I squeezed some chicken flavored tooth paste on a brush and tried to brush her teeth. She took off before I could even get her to taste the tooth paste- she was not letting anything close to her mouth. After several attempts, I gave up and tried the dental wipes- she growled at me for touching her muzzle. I aborted my mission, planning to speak to my vet about her behavior.

After changing into joggers and a tank top, I rejoined Sammy in the kitchen. Amanda already arrived and I greeted her with a hug. They were adjusting the lights, setting up the drink ingredients on the table, and positioning the cameras.

"I didn't know you were into filming and stuff." I commented to Amanda.

"I'm not really. I use to do it alot with Paul." Amanda shrugged.

"Who's Paul?" I asked.

"My ex." she mumbled almost incoherently. I nodded in understanding and left it alone.

"Y'all made sex tapes?" Sammy asked, clearly not sensing her discomfort.

"No!" Amanda exclaimed, blushing. "He made videos online of his game play. I used to help him."

"That sounds lame- stick with the sex tape story." Sammy instructed her. Amanda blushed harder. The doorbell rang and Sammy stood to answer it.

"She likes to say things for shock value- just ignore her." I told Amanda, reassuringly. Amanda just shrugged again.

Calle and Sammy joined us in the kitchen. Calle looked gorgeous in a red bustier top and black short shorts. Rose arrived a little after her. She wore a dark red blouse that matched with her hair and black slacks. Sammy got to work touching up their hair and makeup and I let Justine outside to play when they started filming. I stood in the kitchen, watching them and Justine through the window until my phone beeped.

Sammy shot daggers at me with her eyes and I hurried to the living room, shooting her an apologetic look. I checked my phone and saw that Christian sent me a text, asking me to give him a call. He left a message the night before saying he wanted to talk, but I had yet to response. I knew I would forgive him, I just didn't know how I felt about continuing whatever we were doing. The last thing on my to do list before going back to work was calling Christian back. I told myself I would call him after the girls left and continued to watch them work from the safety of my living room.

Rose and Calle made easy conversation about Valentine's Day as they prepared the drinks. Sammy fussed over every little thing, making sure they got the perfect video. Amanda only spoke when spoken to, and grudgingly at that. When the girls finished the video, Calle had to leave to go to work, but I ordered Thai food for the rest of us. Amanda was ready to go, but Sammy harassed her into finishing editing the film before she left. I persuaded her to take a break to eat with us when the food arrived.

While we were eating, Justine watched me waiting for me to share my food. It took all my willpower to refuse her. My phone rang again, distracting me from Justine's pitifully stare. Christian was calling again, but I ignored it. When I looked up, Sammy was watching me.

"What is everyone doing for Valentine's day?" Sammy asked, digging into her food.

"My girlfriend and I are going away this weekend. Not sure where, but I'm excited." Rose answered.

"That sounds fun." Sammy stated looking over at me, expectantly.

"What are you doing Sammy?" I asked, sarcastically. She knew I was single- what did she think I would do?

"I got tickets to the Gas Monkey for one of the bands Corey loves." Sammy waved me off. "What are you doing Lily?"

"I might call Ethan-" I started. When Sammy gave me a crazy look, I continued. "I promised EJ he could stay over so I figured this might be a good weekend. Staci has her daughter so I'll probably invite them to hang out too."

"So you and Staci are bff's now?" Sammy snorted.

"I offered to watch Amber's kids but they're going to be with their grandma. Since Staci didn't have any plans either, we said we'll do something together." I explained.

"So that's a yes?"

I rolled my eyes. "That's a she's cool and single while my other friends are married, pregnant or boo'd up. Do you have plans Amanda?" I turned to include her in the conversation.

"I have to work." Amanda said quickly.

"All day?" I asked.

"Pretty much." she said, focusing back on the laptop.

Ok...

After we got done eating, I began cleaning up. As I wiped down the table, my phone rang. I saw it was Christian again and let it go to voicemail.

"Alright, what's going on with you and Christian?" Sammy looked me over critically.

"What?" I frowned up at her.

"You haven't said anything about him and you're ignoring his calls. If you're dating him you can tell me-"

"I'm not! I don't even know if I want to keep talking to him." I relayed, frustrated.

"What happened?" she asked.

I broke down and explain to her what happened over the weekend, including our little disagreement about the jewelry he bought me and his attitude when I had to leave for Justine.

"I finally felt like we were in a good place- getting to know each other, going slow, but then he acts like a-

"A fuck boy?" Sammy supplied. Rose busted out laughing and Amanda snorted out a laugh too before she covered her mouth.

"Exactly. I'm trying to be 100% honest and open up to him- it's just makes me not even wanna try when he acts like that." I confesses. I still planned on talking to Christian, but I had no idea what to say to him. Venting to Sammy, Rose and Amanda couldn't hurt- hopefully it'll help me get my thoughts together.

"So what really happened with Trevor?" Sammy continued to interrogate me.

I looked at her, wondering if she already knew. I sighed and told her the truth. "He saw the jewelry and assumed I'm with Christian."

"You get why he would think that- you thought the same way when Christian gave it to you." Sammy pointed out.

"I get that but then he offered to take the burden of Justine off my hands." I revealed.

"What?" Rose gasped in disbelief. Even Amanda looked up at me from her laptop.

"Yeah because if I'm dating Christian, my lifestyle has changed and she doesn't fit anymore." I confirmed.

"I'm sure he didn't mean that. He said he wanted to talk about y'all being friends again. That's why I left you two alone." Sammy revealed quickly.

I looked back at Amanda and Rose curiously. I knew what Sammy was doing: defending Trevor. Amanda just went through a break up and Rose was a complete outsider to the situation. I wanted their opinion. "What do y'all think?"

"To make it seem like you don't want Justine because you are dating is a low blow. That doesn't sound like he's trying to be a friend." Rose offered, in a disgusted tone.

"I know right? And I'm not even dating. If he would have just talked to me I would have told him that." I agreed, vehemently.

"He was just upset." Sammy continued to defend him. Rose looked at her surprised, but didn't say anything else. I turned to Amanda instead.

"He's upset because he thinks you're dating when he's dating too. Even if you were dating, he's being a hypocrite." Amanda added.

I froze momentarily, processing what she said. I breathed deeply as I felt a tightening in my chest.

"It's not that she's dating- it's just Christian." Sammy butted in, cutting her eyes at Amanda. Amanda quickly looked down at the laptop, guiltily. "And he's not seriously dating anyone-"

I cut her off, not wanting to hear anymore. "I understand why he would be hurt thinking something is going on between me and Christian. I'm just... I'm really trying to be honest with myself and everyone around me now. I can't deal with people who can't do the same." I said.

Sammy looked like she wanted to say something, but she left it alone. Rose left shortly afterwards. Amanda went back to her work. I watched her, asking her a few questions just so it wouldn't feel so awkward. I wasn't upset that she told me- although I could tell Sammy definitely was.

When Amanda finished, she sent Sammy the finished copy and split. Sammy stuck around a little longer, trying to comfort me and give me advice about Trevor but I barely listened. I knew Trevor would move on sooner or later- what I didn't understand is why it hurt so much. I couldn't get over the pain I felt over it.

"I'll talk to him-" Sammy continued.

"Please don't. I'm over it."

"I know that's not true."

"It is and I really don't want to get into this again. I need to get ready for work so I'll see you tomorrow ok?" I said walking her to the front door.

I had my doctor's appointment with Dr. Pereira. Sammy agreed to stay with Justine for me. She was going to stay the night, but I really needed some time to myself.

Thankfully, Sammy nodded and left. I grabbed the bottle of wine we had at dinner and poured myself a glass. I put on Rihanna's album and sat down, hoping the wine and music would put me in a better mood. It didn't. After I emptied the glass, I grabbed my phone, determined to try to figure out who Trevor was dating.

I obsessed over every post and picture on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat of all our mutual friends before my pride finally kicked in. Instead of obsessing over who he might be dating, I removed him from all my social media accounts. My grief turned into anger and disgust at myself. I didn't want to be with Trevor-I turned him down when he wanted to get back together! I shouldn't care if he was dating. I shouldn't care about him at all. I should be over this by now! Why wouldn't the feelings just go the fuck away? What was wrong with me?

I went into the kitchen, grabbed the remaining champagne from the video shoot and drank it straight from the bottle. I sat down on the floor with Justine, stroking her belly, urging myself not to cry. Crying accomplished nothing- neither did sitting on my ass drinking. I put the bottle down and started to do crunches instead. I was lying flat on my back, exhausted, when I heard my door bell ring.

I looked down at my phone. It was only 8pm but I had no idea who would be showing up at my house. I got up and dragged my feet to the door, peaking out the window to see who it was. I didn't want to turn on my porch light because I didn't want a psycho killer to know I was home. Would a killer ring the doorbell? What if they already saw me? I was debating what I should do when my phone beeped.

Christian: Are you home?

I opened the door, forgetting I engaged the alarm when Sammy left. Sure enough, Christian stood at my porch as my alarm bleeped loudly. "What are you doing here?" I asked him as I entered the security code to silence the alarm.

"I tried to call. Repeatedly. Is it okay if I come in?" He asked, looking me over warily.

"Yeah." I moved out the way quickly to let him in. "Why aren't you in California?" I interrogated him.

"I wanted to talk to you and you weren't answering my calls."

"I was going to call you back- I was just waiting for everyone to leave."

"Everyone?"

"Sammy, Amanda, Calle and Rose. They were shooting a video." I pointed over to the heart adorned kitchen.

"Okay..." he said, his gaze following my finger.

"You want some champagne?" I asked, picking up the bottle next to me. I shook it because it felt so light. Empty. Fuck.

"That's ok-"

"I can make something else. I have a bar now." I informed him walking towards the kitchen.

"I'm ok really-"

"I don't mind. I need another. I'm sure Sammy doesn't want me using her alcohol but that's what she gets." I tossed the empty bottle in the recycling bin.

"You go ahead." he called out me.

"Right." I said, filling a cup with water instead. I returned to the living room and flopped on the couch next to him. "Shoot." I said, pointing my fingers at him in a shooting motion.

He gave me a crooked smile before he started. "I'm sorry-"

"I know." I interrupted him, nodding.

"You do?"

"Yes. I got your gift. Even though Justine had surgery on her mouth and can't eat hard food or chew on toys, I got the message. I forgive you. I just don't know where we go from here." I explained.

"What do you mean?"

"I just have enough going on. I'm trying to work through 27 years of insecurities and self loathing and anger and....all this other shit. I can't add anymore to my plate. I don't wanna deal with a fuckboy." I said, exasperated.

Amusement flashed in his eyes. "I'm a fuckboy now?"

"Only a fuckboy would be mad I had to leave to check on Justine." I crossed my arms, getting pissed all over again.

He Iooked me straight in the eyes. "I wasn't mad about that."

"No? You sure acted like you were." I challenged him.

"I wasn't. I was... Frustrated. I felt like I was finally getting some time with you and Trevor called and you ran."

I blanched at the mention of his name. "For my dog!"

"I know but in my mind, it was the same thing all over again."

"What does that even mean?" I asked, truly confused.

"You not seeing anyone other than Trevor-"

"He doesn't matter! I'm done with him!!!" I exclaimed passionately. Christian just looked at me, skeptically, before I crushed my lips into his. I needed to prove it to him... And myself.

He didn't kiss me back so I pulled away slightly. I opened my eyes and he stared at me, his eyes widened in surprised. I ran my fingers through his short dark hair and leaned in close again. When I moistened my lips with the tip of my tongue, it grazed the entrance to his mouth. He groaned and I took that opportunity to slid my tongue in his mouth. I stroked my tongue against his, watching his eyes flutter close as he kissed me back.

I pressed my body against him and he gripped my waist in response. He slid his hands up my body until he was caressing the sides of my breasts. I waited to feel something-sparks, tingles, butterflies, fireworks, boom clap, anything. I felt nothing- nothing but emptiness. It took me back to being 15 again- desperate enough for affection that I was willing to do anything for it...

He pulled away abruptly and I looked up at him confused. I didn't even realize I was crying until he wiped my tears away.

"I'm sorry." I said, pulling away and cleaning my own face. "I'm ok." I tried to convince him as lean in back close to him.

"No. I'm sorry." he said, looking at me with a mixture of concern and confusion on his face. "I didn't come here for this- I came to talk."

I gulped and shook my head. "We don't have to talk. We're good. I'm good. Promise." I lied, running my hands over his jean covered legs.

He pushed my hands away. "No, you're not. What's wrong?"

My face burned with embarrassment as his rejection. "What's wrong is that I'm sick of everyone telling me what I am and what I'm not. I said I'm good and I don't wanna talk. If you don't get that, just go!" I snapped at him before I stormed to my room. I waited for Justine to join me before I slammed the door behind me. I angrily wiped the tears away as I laid down in bed.


I woke up a short time later with a throbbing headache only made worst by my alarm system blaring. I pushed the comforter of my body and stumbled out of bed. The memories of my evening pieced together even though I wished they didn't.

I was shocked to see the morning sun glaring through the windows and Christian at the front door toying with the keypad.

I quickly joined him, punching in the code to disengage it. "There. Now you can escape." I joked lightly even though I believed he was trying to sneak out. Hell, I would have ran the night before. I wondered why he stayed.

"I wasn't trying to leave. I came to talk to you. We didn't do much of that last night." he said, finally looking at me. His eyes looked tired, but not annoyed or pissed at me. After my performance last night, he had every right to be.  I flushed, not knowing which was worst: my failed attempt to seduce him or my reaction when he turned me down. I was pissed and annoyed with myself.

"I'm sorry. I had too much to drink." I said, ashamed.

"I figured. You tasted like it." he said, bluntly, causing my face to burn harder. He rubbed my shoulder. "We normally have our best conversations when you're drunk. Not sure what happened last night, but can we try again sober?"

I cleared my throat and nodded. "Yeah, but if you weren't leaving, what are you doing?"

"You friend Sammy- She came in and just left." Christian explained.

I groaned, thinking about what she must have assumed before I went back to my room to retrieve my phone.

"Everything ok?" Christian asked, joining me in my room.

I called Sammy 3 times. She ignored all three.

"No. She was supposed to watch Justine for me today, now she's not answering." I said truthfully.

"I can watch her." Christian answered.

"You don't have to. I can cancel my appointment and Amber or Rocky can watch her while I'm at work-"

"I have a red-eye tomorrow morning. I can crash and we can really talk when you get back." He told me.

"Are you sure?"

"I'm positive. When's your appointment?"

"10." I sighed, knowing that I really needed to see Dr. Pereira now more than ever.

"Go. Get ready. No hard food or chew toys right?" Christian asked.

"Right..." I confirmed, trying to remember if I told him that or not.

"Got it. We'll be here when you get back."



"Lily... You're here early." Dr. Pereira greeted me as she let me in her office early.

"Yeah, I left my dog that just had surgery with the guy I threw myself at after finding out my ex is dating, so I figured I should get here right away." I blurted sarcastically.

She listened as I revealed everything that was going on. The first thing she asked me about was my trip. I spent majority of our time telling her about my falling out with Christian, explaining to her why I had to come back for Justine and my last failure of a conversation with Trevor.

"I get that he would be upset if I dated Christian. To some extent, I understand how he's acting because I used to do the same shit- jump to conclusion and act immaturely. I just wished he would have talked to me or at least asked me before assuming I was with Christian." I ranted.

"From what you've told me, making assumptions doesn't sound out of his character." She pointed out.

I breathed in deep before starting again. "I know. I guess I just wanted us to be... ok again. I've accepted that we aren't going to be together but a small part of me wish that we could be friends again. Even though he told me if we ever broke up that wouldn't happen, I guess I didn't want to believe that." I confessed.

"You should be able to have open communication with a friend. They should listen- you shouldn't feel the need to hide secrets, happenings or feelings with a friend. A friend will offer support and encouragement even when they disagree with you. Do you feel like you and Trevor can be true friends to one another?"

I looked away, deep in thought. We hadn't been true friends to each other for a long time now. I shook my head no.

"What about Christian?"

I scoffed. "I blew that. I just threw myself at him because Trevor is dating. How could I do that after what he just told me about me not seeing anyone pass Trevor? Why can't I see pass Trevor? Why do I care that he's dating? I want to move on from him. Instead, I'm trying to make myself feel better about him by having sex with Christian. Even though I know better, I keep making the same mistakes. What the fuck is wrong with me?" I asked, ashamed and confused. My eyes stayed dry, but I felt defeated inside. What was the good of therapy if I kept making the same mistakes over and over again?

"Do you remember what you told me when I asked you what you wanted to accomplish in therapy?" Dr. Pereira asked.

"Yeah... I wanted to get over my past and fix myself so I can have normal relationships. I feel like I've worked through my past issues; now how do I fix what's wrong with me? I'm constantly torn between what I want to do and what I know I should do."

She gave me a soft smile. "You're becoming more self aware Lily. When you understand your needs and desires and even your failings, you begin to understand why you do the things you do. Understanding those habits is the only way you can improve them. Habits become behavior- behavior becomes character. As long as you keep improving, eventually, it becomes a part of who you are."

I nodded my understanding as our time came to an end.

"That doesn't mean you won't feel inner conflict or make mistakes. The important part is having the self awareness to realize them. That's how you make the right choices and stop making the same mistakes."

I thought that over as she stood up."Ok."

"I think we can start seeing each other every other week." When I looked up at her, shocked, she continued. "I'm still here if you need more appointments, but I don't think you need to see me on a weekly bases. You're ready to start applying what you've learned." Dr. Pereira encouraged me.

"I can do that." I said, confidently. I was still ashamed of my actions, but I no longer beat myself up. I was ready to learn from my mistakes and correct them.

"Remember what I told you about relationships?" she asked me at the door.

I shook my head.

"Don't fixate on normal relationships- focus on healthy. A healthy relationship is based on mutual respect, trust and honesty. You want relationships with people that have good communication, respect your boundaries, and support you. That's more important than what you perceive as normal."

"You're right and I will." I promised.