This time, Alex jerks away from me and holds the door open. “Well, turns out we’re all learning new things today,” he says, and walks out of the elevator. “Don’t follow me.”
“Here you go,”Cara says, bringing my coffee order in a drink carrier. She sets it on my desk. “Sorry for the delay, there was a huge line today, and omg, I was talking to this hot guy who’s a personal trainer and you’re not going to believe this…” her voice trails off, and I remain stoic in my chair.
What the hell am I going to do?
Rhett left with Alex about forty minutes ago, and I haven’t heard back. I am fighting every urge to go to his office or call him. What if they’re fighting, like old school, the way we see it in the movies? Nah, not possible. They wouldn’t do that at work.
For all I know they must still be together and chatting. Maybe they’re even making peace.
A peace I broke.
I called Alex all kinds of names when I found him with my roommate, and went on to do something worse with him. Sure, I love his dad, but that’s not how it all started. I wanted to get back at him. And now that it’s happened, there’s a hole in my heart.
I look at Cara, who’s still gesticulating with her long perfectly manicured nails. “So anyway, I told him yes, I could totally go bungee jumping one day as long as I’m blind-folded.”
I reach for my coffee, and take a sip.
It’s not that hot anymore, which makes me think it wasn’t just the long line—she probably talked to this bungee-jumping enthusiastic for longer than what she’s admitting to, but I’m too emotionally tired to be argumentative. So like a well-trained dog, I just roll over and pretend to listen to the rest of her story.
“…And he told me he’d call me tomorrow,” she says with a squeal.
I clap. “Good job, Cara. A coffee trip and a potential date all in one morning.”
She smiles. “Thanks. Though I don’t know what I should wear. Something cute or athletic? Should I go for something a little sexy, maybe?”
“I need to get some work done, but we’ll discuss it later,” I say, trying my best to sound pleasant. It’s not her fault I just got caught with my ex’s dad. If anything… it’s my fault, I realize, my heart small in my chest. I can spin it any different way, but I manifested it.
Falling in love was the casualty.
“Sure,” she says, taking the hint and going back to her desk.
I look at my screen, and take a deep breath. I have a lot to do, but my mind is everywhere else but here. I’m emailing a vendor about price requests when I hear a knock on my open door. I raise my gaze to see Rhett, already walking into the office and closing the door behind him.
“Hey,” I say in a low defeated voice, even if my heart is slamming my ribcage. A look at him and I get every bit of energy I need, like he’s a natural power source.
He walks up to me, and picks a leather chair across from me and sits. “I’m sorry about what happened. I talked to Alex, and he’s pissed now, but he just needs time.”
I inhale, softly swiveling in my chair, my legs fidgety. Damn it.
Alex brought me flowers, not only flowers, but red roses. He must have wanted to rekindle our relationship, otherwise they would have been white or yellow. Or he wouldn’t have brought them at all.
My heart twists in my chest, and all of me feels tight and uncomfortable. Shit. I don’t want to be the reason why the two of them don’t get along. How many times have I chastised my mom’s former partners before she met my stepfather? I couldn’t stop loving my mom, so I blamed them instead. I’d hate to be that person for Alex. And I’d hate for Alex to be hurt with his father because of me, permanently. I’m sure in the future, even Rhett would see it and start resenting me. That would be something I couldn’t handle. “You know… maybe we should cool it,” I say, and raise my chin. My stomach is in knots and tears well up inside, but I’m proud at how cool my voice sounds.
He frowns. “Cool it?”
He steps toward me. “Why?”
I take a step back, and clear my throat. “Because now we’re back to reality, and it’s going to be a bit more difficult than we both imagined. Alex is mad at you, mad at me, and we all work together. And in these situations, the woman is usually the one who gets the short end of the stick.”
His eyes search for mine, an expression of concern crossing his face. “I would never let you be professionally hurt.”
I bit back a smile. Why does he have to be so noble? That’s not what I need right now. Breaking up with Alex was easy. Breaking up with Rhett will rot me inside… I just know it. “I know that. You’re good. But it’s just a lot. I need to find a new place to live, and catch up on work, and I can’t let this whole thing between us distract me.”