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Letting the uncomfortable silence absorb us and our thoughts. “Thank you.” I left the small space, and walked out to the car I had parked and waiting for me. I needed to get away from here before I had a chance to see Drake again. If he wanted me back in his life, he would have to come and get me. ‘Hey, were not here now. Leave your name and number if you want us to call you back. If you want us to pay something though, go jump off a cliff’. I turned to look at the small black machine as I walked in my front door. Some one had called just as I got here, which meant I either had a stalker, or Emily knew what had just happened. All of me wanted it to be some stalker instead of my friend. Knowing her she would most likely yell at me for something I did. “Jump off a cliff? What the ruddy hell is that supposed to mean?” Her voice sounded joking, but I knew it wasn’t especially when I heard the soft sound of static in the background. She was in the car, on her way here now. “It’s a joke Em, get to the point!” I argued with the object while pulling my jacket off and getting ready to argue while she bantered on and on about something that wasn’t her business. “You said you still loved him! What were you thinking? If I weren’t your friend, I would kill you. You do not admit to an ex-lover; mainly one who was your cherry popper, and yes I know about that, while you are with the guy who you could marry. Not right Rye!” the loud sound of beeping went off, telling me that she had hung up on my machine, pissed off with me. “Fuck you Em; you have no right to judge.” I shot back at the black box that was flashing red at the new message. Taunting me about what I had done not even an hour ago. I wanted to scream, to yell, to trash the small part of the room so I could finally let go of everything that had gone on not even an hour ago. It still hurt to think about what had gone on. To the scene of us yelling and screaming about something no one should know nor care about. It just hurt. “I hate you.” I told the small machine. I couldn’t help but scowl at the object below me on the little brown table. With out realizing it, my hand went out to the black box, finger hovering over the delete button ever so slightly. One little tap, and the message would be gone. Tom would think Emily is just PMSing or hormonal over some small thing if were fighting. ‘-Jump off a cliff’. The end of my voice mail caught me off guard. When had it started up again? Had someone even called me, or was I just imaging it like I had been lately when it came to stuff going on? “Rye,” his voice, soft and strained, came as a shock to me. Why was he calling me here? Why was he even talking to me? This was over, done with. “Rye I know your there, just please, listen to me.” I wanted to delete it, just walk out of the room and forget everything. But the begging tone in his voice, the way he sounded so sincere to me, kept me grounded in my spot. I needed to hear what he had to say. “Rye, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Just, let me come over; to talk to you about this. What was said back there, I just,” his voice caught, and I wanted nothing more to fall in a heap and cry at the way he hesitated, “I was hurt, am hurt about this. I don’t blame you, or hate you about this. The incident,” his mouth must have had to force out that word, “kills me. You could have told me. You know this. Riley, I love you.”
The room was spinning; air rushing around my ears as I plopped into the foot rest barely registered with me. He just told me, on my answering machine in the apartment with my public boyfriend, that he loved me. He loved me. “Rye, I’m in front of the door. Let me in.” it wasn’t a command, or even a suggestion. He wanted to talk to me; be let in right now. I hurried to the door, ignoring the fact I may have made a sound, or even alerted him to me wanting to see him. It didn’t matter, not now at least. I just wanted to see him, to make sure I hadn’t concocted this moment in my mind like I must have done these past four months. “Drake.” I grabbed his collar, tugging him down to my smaller height compared to him, his lips meeting mine in one of those sappy romantic moments you may see on some movie. “Don’t ever do that again.” my mouth hovered over his, teasing his flesh as our eyes stayed connected. I should have slapped him, yelled at him, even banned him from my place, but I just couldn’t. “Does this mean we can continue?” fingertips grazed my form, teasing the hem of my snug shirt, raising goose bumps subtly. “Only if you never call here again, and get that guard dog slash friend of mine off my back. I will kill her and get away with it.” my arms wrapped around his neck, tugging him closer as I pulled him into the small room and away from prying nosy neighbors who would spill to Tom with loud whispers about this. “Deal.” he bent down ready to kiss me again, only for me to pull away and go to my answering machine. I needed to delete those voice mails before Tom got home. It would only be a matter of time before he reached the apartment, and less time for him to see who had called. “Rye, relax. He won’t find out if were careful.” His hands grazed my body, teasing my skin to get the reaction he wanted. “Not now Drake.” I tried to be forceful, but my voice came out uneven, revealing what he could do to me. “Let go Rye, give in to your desires and needs.” he kissed my neck, wanting me to give in easily. It was a trick he discovered when we were at school, and it seems he still knew what to do to get what he wanted from me now. “Not now, please.” I got out of his grip, going to the evidence on the machine I now loathed less and loved more. With out much thought, I deleted the last two messages. Ignoring the pit in my stomach telling me I was doing the wrong thing. I should have just let Tom find out and make up some story full of lies. “So why did you come here? Besides the obvious.” I traced the edge of the small answering machine. For some reason it was becoming more and more interesting to me; less daunting now that the proof was gone and I was now hiding the evidence in my own house, my lover less than three feet away. “When you left, after you said those things,” I had to force myself to keep from turning around. If I looked at him, I would wind up saying things I would regret. “It hurt Rye. The thought that it could have been mine, that we could have had a child together, and you wanted it to be his killed me inside.” The sound of his shuffling feet told me he was going to sit down as I listened to him explain. I needed to resist looking at him, or else I would lose my resolve and just open up completely. “I was so hurt, and you just didn’t tell me. Then you say that you could still love me, and
I thought I would die Riley. You stormed out before I could say anything and it just hurt.” he cut himself off, not daring to say anything more as I finally turned to see him. “Drake, please don’t think ill of me. We both know I love Tom; but now, with everything going on, it’s like old times. When I’m with you, I feel like we’re back at school. I just don’t know if I could handle it if we ended like last time.” The break up from last time was still fresh to me. From the public break up scene, to our refusal of not talking for years. If it wasn’t for Emily and our accidental run in while Tom was with me, this affair would never have started. “Rye, if I have any say in this thing going on between us now, it won’t end like it did last time. Fuck, I can’t believe I was so stupid to even let you go back then. I won’t let you go this time.” his answer was so certain, so positive, that I wanted to believe him. I was next to him on the couch now, not looking at him; yet not speaking either. Both of us just enjoying the silence that was each other’s company. His hand slid down to mine, griping it lightly as we continued to sit there. “Drake-” “Riley-” we both spoke at the same time ready to say what we wanted the other to hear. It was like the world was on pause and we were the only ones moving. His hand gripped mine tighter, and our eyes locked. Drake’s head dipped lower to mine, eyes closed as his mouth hovered over my own. Teasing it lightly, just so I would lean in as well. “Rye?” I jumped off the couch, pushing Drake off of me as I turned to the front door where Tom was. His jacket was in one hand, the other holding the door open as he faced me. A smile was on his face as he shut the door with a quiet click and walked over to me. “Hi.” I forced a smile in return, trying to seem like I did nothing wrong the moment before he arrived, or would have done if he hadn’t of arrived. “Hey love.” he came over and pecked my cheek, looking over to see who my companion was in the room. “Drake, what are you doing here?” his brows knit together in confusion as he scanned Drakes face for an answer, before looking at me from the corner of his eye. “I just came by to see Rye.” Drakes face was unfazed, as if we hadn’t almost made out before Tom came home. His mind was working fast for a lie he could use for the situation. “She and Em had a fight, so I just wanted to see what happened and what I could do to fix the situation.” His composure was normal, while I must have looked a little surprised at how close to the truth he had revealed to Tom. Both looked at me so I could be able to confirm this. “Yeah, small little fight about something. You know how we are. Tell her I’m sorry, and that I will talk to her tomorrow.” I smiled to Drake, nodding to the door subtly so he could get the hint to leave Tom and me alone. “I’ll see you later Rye.” he smiled to me, shaking Tom’s hand as he left us and shut the door to leave us alone. “So what was the fight about exactly?” to the normal person hearing this, it would seem like he was just curious. But I knew Tom better than this; he was jealous that I was alone with Drake, who had also been the one trying to be the hero in shiny white with a steed. “Girl stuff really; PMS getting in the way again. Nothing to get jealous over.” I tried to fight the smirk forming on my face. I tried to seem indifferent to his behavior. But I was failing miserably. He was jealous over Drake, the other man in my life. It was every girl’s fantasy to have
guys pining after them at the same time, but a whole other story when the said girl is sleeping with both. Confused about both in her life. “I am not jealous, just curious.” He pecked my cheek lightly, before heading into the shower after working so hard to provide for us. Once his body was out of my eyes sight, I fell onto the couch where Drake and I had been just minutes before. The spot was cold, almost like an omen of things to come. “What have I done?” The question wasn’t to anyone special, but it felt like the entire room knew the answer but me. Like it was all some twisted joke that I couldn’t know just yet. That I would either have to figure it out on my own, wait for some fatalistic event to happen before hand, or that it would all come crashing down on me in the last minute of pure bliss. That I may just destroy everything with just the slip of the tongue. I closed my eyes, trying to focus on my racing thoughts and pulse. Tom ahd been so close; almost walking in on a kiss between Drake and I. God! “Rye, don’t screw this up. Just try to keep this going for so long.” I told myself with as much confidence I could muster. “Well if it isn’t our own little Jezebel? How’s life Jezz?” Emily smiled to me, eyes full of joy. Her sarcasm did nothing to damper my mood as I sat down next to her and Alice. “Pretty good, seeing as how I’ve been getting my oats lately.” I placed my small purse next to me on the table as we looked at each other, silently securitizing the other two. Emily was happy, yet upset at the same time. It had been a week since we made up, but it was still bizarre between us. We could never shut up when we were at school, but now we couldn’t wait to get away from each other. “With who though?” Emily didn’t hide the disdain in her tone as she gave me a pointed look. It seems she was still pissed off with me about what had happened between Drake and me. “Does it matter? You’re going to silently judge me, and then stand by me when I need you. Why continue this pathetic dance we do every time I fuck up.” The harshness in my voice seemed to startle all of us as we continued staring each other down. The café we were at seemed to be the only noise that was making this lunch less awkward for all of us. This wasn’t like us; we were acting like strangers; not the wild girls who met at boarding school by sheer luck. “What’s wrong with us?” Alice voiced my thoughts; and I’m sure hers as well. Emily was messing with the rim of her glass, not looking at either of us anymore. Alice just stared into space, letting her mind wander on what to say. “I didn’t mean for this to happen. When I was with Drake, I just figured it was a onetime thing; not end up with me cheating and hiding like some filthy tart.” “You’re not a tart Rye. You just didn’t think it would all be like this.” Emily spoke up at that time, choosing still to avoid looking at Alice or me. “What would you call it then? ‘Sharing my time with two gentlemen friends’? This isn’t some love story we have on our hands. I miscarried with a child who neither of them knew of. I’ve lived with Drake while Tom was out of town.” I could feel myself slowly breaking down in front of them once more. Even when we were at the Whitfield for the job interview, this was just different. Neither of them knew what to do to help me.
“You’re not a tart Riley.” Alice chimed in; trying not to seem like this conversation was bothering her. I was ready to argue, to persuade them to my side. My mouth was open, the words were on the tip of my tongue; ready to pour out like a flood and drown them. “How’d the job interview go?” Emily smiled, eyes glowing with joy as she looked at my face closely for any sign of argument from my side. She wanted to change the conversation; put the thoughts out of her mind so the three of us can have a nice lunch finally. She just wanted to ignore the problem and face it when the time came. “All right, we’ll do it this way then.” I grabbed the untouched drink that had been ordered for me before I arrived, and traced shapes in the sweating glass. “So did you get the job, or do we have to go back one more time? I told you Museum’s were bad.” Alice smiled at me, finally showing emotion to us. “Yeah, not exactly good work ethic when you have to leave the place for your personal issues.” “Admitting you’re pregnant and having an accident,” like everyone else around me, the word accident was forced out of her mouth so I would feel better, “doesn’t meant your chances are shot. You did something right?” “A shitty something. Got research from the site and from what we had seen. Let’s hope I get it.” I raised my glass to them for a one sided toast on my half. “You’ll get it. You’re too good to not get it.” Emily added while raising her glass to me. Alice joined in, laughing as I picked my glass back up to make a toast. “To my new job, even though I haven’t been called yet; To Emily, for not killing me; an Alice, for putting up with our bitchy selves.” I gestured to Emily and myself, laughing as we touched our drinks together. “Okay Ms. Duggar, time to go over your work.” I was back in his office, and I didn’t even know his name, if he had even told me it. “Yes sir.” It was the safest thing to say at the moment, and I didn’t want to ruin my chances of getting this job. “Please Ms. Duggar, call me Mike. Sir is if you don’t get the job.” He smiled, making his mouth form wrinkles on the sides of his round face. “Mike, I want to apologize for my work on it. Some things came up while I was working on it.” I could feel my bottom lip moving its way between my teeth as I thought of how I would phrase any explanation if needed. “Oh really?” he placed the copy in his hands before me, “I’ll be honest Ms. Duggar, I couldn’t tell. You got your facts right, kept your thoughts and feelings of you and your friends neutral, and you got in on time. So would you have done better if these things didn’t come up?” “To be honest Mike, I’m not sure.” I tried to let the grip on my bottom lip to loosen up, but it was hard when all of me just wanted to admit to what my issues were for my story. “Well Ms. Duggar, your hired. So what shall I call you, because Ms. Duggar seems a little to formal for my taste?” he joked quietly as he smiled. “Riley, or Rye; if you don’t mind.” I forced a smile in return, feeling out of place as I eyed the paper he had used as test for me. It didn’t bleed with red ink like papers in college did when graded by a professor, but it
still had some guts all over it. Either way didn’t matter to me. I got the job. “When do I start?” the words came out before I could even think about it. I had gotten the job. “Next week will be good. So welcome to The Sun Riley.” He held his hand out, wanting me to shake it for some congratulations on my behalf. I was numb; my body moving on it’s own as I felt my skin touch his in a friendly way. All of me in shock as his words sunk in slowly, forcing my mind to comprehend what had just happened. “All right.” I could feel the smile on my face, the joy as I started to realize what was going on at the moment. “Good. Now go tell who ever you want about this.” he waved his hand to the door, wanting to see how I would react to my first job in the real world. I didn’t say anything more as I left the room quietly; shutting the door behind me with a small click. I turned to the rest of the room, looking at who would now be my coworkers. Fighting the smile off my face, and failing miserably. “Yes!” I jumped for joy, relishing the fact that I had just scored my first job mere seconds ago. My eyes scanned the room once more, expecting to see people at work and getting coffee. Maybe even yelling with someone on the phone; all eyes were on me instead, either glaring or laughing behind tight lipped mouths at my outburst. “Sorry, just got a job.” I beamed at them, excitedly as I floated out of the room to my waiting car. “You screamed in front of everyone?” Tom was in the kitchen, prepping my congratulatory dinner for getting my first job; just like I had done for him when he got his job back before University. “I did not scream, just jumped for joy and gave a loud yelp while everyone was working. I do not scream.” I stuck my tongue out playfully as he chuckled at my response. “Love, you’re a screamer. We both know this, hell our neighbors know this.” He padded over to where I was sitting on the couch, two plates of take out in hand as he put then on the coffee table. “Once, maybe twice we were called on. Does not mean I’m a screamer. Now hand over the noodles to this working girl.” I held my hand out playfully as he lounged further into the seat I was in. “Lazy.” he handed me the plate, a small smirk dawned his face as he positioned himself next to me. “But you lover her lazy ass.” Both of our heads turned to see Emily in our doorway. Her own set of keys in hand as she placed them on the counter and sauntered her way over to the couch. “I need to take her keys.” I said this mainly to myself, but Tom nodded none the less as she made herself at home in our place. “You won’t take them.” She shrugged, and then plopped into the seat between Tom and I. “Now how’d the job go? I heard from Justin, who heard from another little birdie that you got the job. Please tell me this is true so we can go out and celebrate. As well as plan for your not so secret surprise party.”
“For the last Time Em, I will not have a party. After my twenty-first, I will not celebrate any birthday. Get this through your head.” I shot down her prepared and most likely persuasive speech about what to do for my birthday as soon as I could. “But Rye, we need to celebrate it. Please?” She moved my plate out of the way, latching onto my arm like a child would do to its mother for some sugary treat. “I said no Emily. Now out. Tom and I are going to enjoy my getting a job together. Alone. Without anyone else around. Okay?” I tried to keep my tone calm as I forced a smile to her, hoping she will get the hint. “Fine. But this conversation is not over just yet. I will be back.” She hopped off the couch with a fluid motion, acting like her usual self as she grabbed her keys and left us. “I think we have a child.” Tom wrapped an arm around my waist, as he took a bite from his plate. “No, we have an Emily.” I clarified as I took a bite off his plate. Finally being able to enjoy the silence of our alone time.
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