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I was drunk. Really fucking drunk.
Since Dylan had stormed out on me a few days ago, I had let myself wallow in a sea of self pity until Jess had enough and forced me into some clothes and out to a local bar with her. Now here I was standing at the bar, trying not to sway too much as I ordered another round.
“You wanna get a water?” Jess shouted in my ear as she eyed me up.
I shook my head and down another shot of tequila before signalling the bartender for another.
“Jo..” Jess started before I cut her off.
“I’m good” I muttered. I had unloaded on Jess when she had come home to find me crying and repeatedly dialling Dylan’s number to no avail. Jess had taken me in her arms and listened to me cry without an ounce of judgement. I knew I was lucky to have her, but right now I was not looking for her to be a voice of reason.
Dylan hadn’t called me back or responded to any of my texts. It was perfectly clear that she didn’t want to talk to me and I didn’t blame her.
Jess observed me take another shot before changing tact. She pulled me away to dance rather than argue with me about my alcohol intake. I let myself be dragged into the throng of bodies, feeling myself give in to the music as I closed my eyes. Normally I was a little self conscious when I danced but the alcohol had removed any inhibitions and I moved freely.
As the beat changed, I saw Jason, Jess’ boyfriend, join us, she smiled and twirled for him. A knot formed in my stomach as the thought of Dylan entered my mind. The thought was pushed aside when I felt a pair of hands grip my hips and the feeling of body pushed against my back.
Fuck it, I thought. The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.
I turned around to look at the guy with his hands around me. He was cute but I didn’t feel the surge of arousal that I got looking at Dylan.
Don’t think about Dylan I chastised myself.
He pulled me into his body and I wrapped an arm around his neck, swaying my hips against him to the music. Two dances in and I was whispering in his ear.
“Let’s get out of here”.
It wasn’t the same. I was standing in my apartment, kissing this guy and trying to pretend I was enjoying it. But it felt wrong. His stubble against my mouth, the pushy way his tongue caressed mine, it didn’t come close to my recent experiences.
He had my shirt off and was pawing at my breasts when I heard a knock against the door. I ignored it and tried to focus on trying to enjoy what was happening. He was clutching at my breasts too hard and I lifted his shirt in order to direct his hands off me. He was pulling his shirt off when the knocking started again.
Goddamit Jess, I thought to myself, of course she would forget her keys.
“Hang on a sec, I just need to let my roommate in” I huffed. I strode across the room and wretched open the door expecting to find Jess, only I didn’t.
She froze when she opened the door, her eyes wide. My breath caught in my throat when I saw her standing before me in a sheer red bra, but I quickly noticed the scene around me. She was standing there topless, with some guy in the background in an equal state of undress.
“Dylan” she stammered. I looked back into her eyes before turning on my heel without a word and walking away from her. I’d seen enough.
The look she had given me haunts me. I had kicked the very confused guy out just after Dylan had left before crawling into my bed. But I couldn’t sleep. I kept reliving the hurt in her eyes when she realized what was going on. She had looked at me like she didn’t know who I was.
Part of me wanted to go after her but what would I say? I had royally fucked up and I knew it. In an effort to work out what the hell my deal was, I had completely fucked over the person I wanted the most. It had taken seeing Dylan’s heartbroken look that made me realize that. I wanted her. Who cared what that mean or how it would affect some label about my sexuality?
I hear Jess enter the apartment, her footsteps pausing outside my room as she pushed my door open.
“Jo?” she whispered.
I lay still, pretending to be asleep until she left.
What am I going to do?
The rest of the weekend past by in somewhat of a blur. Several times I almost called Dylan — but I didn’t know what to say. Finally I couldn’t stand things anymore and I decided to face this head on. I carefully dressed and did my make up and headed over to Dylan’s apartment. Walking the step to her front door, my heart was beating so loudly I worried she’d be able to hear it before I rang the doorbell. Steeling myself, I knocked and waited.
When the door finally opened, it wasn’t Dylan I came face to face with but Ava.
“Oh hi” I stammered. “Is Dylan home?”
Ava looked at me for a few seconds appraisingly. Her eyes were cold.
“No” she finally answered.
“Right well, illegal bahis um could you tell her I came by?”
“I don’t think so” Ava responded icily.
I blinked stupidly at her but she didn’t say anymore. I mustered my courage and took a deep breath.
“Look, I don’t know what Dylan told you but I need to talk to her”
“I don’t really care what you need” she responded in turn.
“Ava –” I started but she cut me off.
“She’s not your plaything ok? She can seem all aloof and unfazed but she fucking isn’t Jo. You don’t know what she’s been through, her whole life she’s been rejected because she’s gay. Her whole life she was made to feel like she should be ashamed of who she is. She finally let someone in and you treated her exactly like everyone else. You were ashamed of her.”
I wanted to respond, shut her down and tell her she was wrong. But she wasn’t. I had treated her like that. So I stood there stupidly as my stomach twisted. Ava eyed me with ill concealed distaste.
“You don’t deserve her” she said dismissively, before abruptly turning and closing the door in my face.
I resolved to find a way to speak to her alone at work on Monday. I could barely sleep Sunday night, rehearsing in my head what I would say to her. By the time I walked into work I was a nervous wreck. But she wasn’t there. Anne told me she had called in sick with the flu, my stomach knotted knowing the real reason she wasn’t here.
I paced my office incessantly, unable to focus on my work. The thought of going over to her apartment again continued to enter my mind, but if she wasn’t at work that was a pretty clear indication that she didn’t want to see me right?
I was wallowing and I knew it. Sitting at home watching daytime television in order to avoid Jo, I kept flashing back to the image of her topless with a semi naked man in the background.
Fucking stupid I thought to myself, falling for a goddamn straight girl, I’m a walking lesbian cliché.
I was angry. With myself, with Jo, with the whole societal notion that my sexuality was somehow lesser. I was also hurt. Jo’s rejection had brought back a whole load of quashed memories of shame that I had done my best to bury. This is why I usually stuck to meaningless sex, no feelings, no expectations, just physical release. I didn’t stick around long enough to know how the women I fucked really felt or what they really thought of me. But this girl had gotten under my skin. Every protective measure I had made had failed me the moment I had seen her icy blue eyes and sexy little body. And damn, what a body. Just picturing it had my heart beating faster.
As a scowled at myself, my phone began to buzz and Ava’s name popped up on my screen.
“What?” I snapped petulantly as I answered the phone.
“Well good morning to you too” she responded, ignoring my sulk. “Just checking to see how you’re going, have you seen her?”
I paused briefly, considering my response. “No, I skipped work today”
Ava was silent on the end of the phone.
“Dylan, you never miss work.” She sounded concerned.
“Yeah, well…..” I didn’t know what to say, it was true I was a workaholic so the idea of missing a day because I was sulking over some girl was undoubtably a surprise. She’s not just some girl though is she?
“I’m worried about you” Ava said quietly.
“Don’t be, I’m fine” I responded quickly. I closed my eyes as I tried to make myself believe that as much as Ava.
Dylan had returned to work the next day, looking exactly as collected and heart stoppingly gorgeous as always. She had walked into our sales meeting and took my breath away exactly as she had done the first day. Her eyes flickered to meet mine briefly but she looked past me after a second and moved to speak with Dan.
I didn’t know what to do, I barely listened as the meeting progressed, formulating a plan in my head to speak with her. My eyes traced to slope of her neck as the meeting wrapped up. I realised if I was going to act, now was my chance.
“Dylan, can I have a second please?” I asked, hoping to sound professional given we were surrounded by our colleagues.
“Actually I’ve got to-” she started, as she moved to get out of her chair.
“I’ll make it quick” I smiled, surely she had to stay now. It would be too suspect to refuse in front of the others. As people trailed out of the room, I licked my lips nervously as she gazed at me impassively.
Just as I opened my mouth to speak she raised her hand, stopping me in my tracks.
“Don’t Jo” she said calmly.
“We have to work together and I need to concentrate to do my job properly. I can’t do that with this going on so just don’t. It’s fine, I’m fine, let’s just move on and pretend this thing with us never happened”
She was so cold, so distant, I instinctively reached out to her but she backed away from me, standing to leave.
“I have to go” illegal bahis siteleri she muttered quickly, her eyes connected with mine again but there was no warmth behind them this time. I could have sworn I saw a flicker of the same pain as when she was stood in my doorway. But just as quickly she turned away from me, striding out the door to leave me standing there, staring after her with a sinking feeling in my stomach.
Every time I’d seen her over the next week she had been indifferent towards me, though I noticed she had managed to make sure she was never alone in my company. The closest I got to her was when we had staff meetings. It was at these times I noticed the dark circles under her eyes or her uncharacteristically spacing out when people were speaking. My guilt magnified with every encounter.
You hurt her, you don’t deserve her. Ava’s words echoed on my head constantly.
As I ruminated on this unhelpfully, Anne entered my office to discuss our latest sales projections, I was grateful for the distraction and focused my mind on the task in front of me. 30 minutes later, we were discussing the next step for the Faber Inc contract. It immediately made me think about Dylan but I tried to push the thought out of my head.
“So I think we’ll bring in Mike to replace Dylan” Anne said.
“What?” I asked incredulously. “Why would we replace Dylan?”
Anne frowned at me.
“She didn’t tell you? She’s leaving, tendered her resignation a few days ago.” Anne stopped when she noticed the look on my face.
‘Are you ok?” she asked.
I quickly nodded and muttered something about it being a shock. She raised her eyebrows at me but said nothing.
I sat at my desk, drinking my third coffee of the day and struggled to get past the fog that had clouded my brain even since Jo Andrews had entered my life. Just when I managed to focus on the spreadsheet in front of me, the door to my office burst open. I looked up in surprise to see Jo wrenching shut the door and turning to face me.
My eyes instinctively travelled down her body but snapped up to her face when I heard her sharp intake of breath.
“You’re leaving?” She asked, her hand shook slightly as she brushed the hair from her face.
“Yes” I stated simply. She stared at me for a few seconds before responding.
“Were you going to tell me?” she looked upset and it pissed me off.
“Why would I do that?”
“Because……” she searched my face for emotion, I refused to give her what she was looking for.
“Because what, Jo? I fucked you a few times? Why should that mean something to me when it clearly meant nothing to you” I snapped.
“It didn’t mean nothing” she responded quickly, blushing under my gaze. I couldn’t help the noise of derision that leaves my throat.
“I’m serious, it was…..” Jo trails off, struggling for words. “It wasn’t nothing” she says as she swallows thickly.
“Did you say the same thing to the guy you fucked the other night?”
“I didn’t sleep with him. I couldn’t after seeing you.” A small part of me feels triumphant but I won’t let her see that.
“Well I’m sorry to be a cockblock”
I senses Jo step towards me and I pushed back in my chair. I needed some distance but I register the pain in her eyes when she sees my movement. Despite everything I feel like an arsehole for being responsible for that look. Jo wrings her hands and looks away from me.
“Look I’m sorry ok? I freaked out and I was so confused and I know what I did was stupid and selfish, I know that.”
I can’t hear any more of this, I need to keep my heart closed and guarded. Here I am letting this girl interfere in my life. I’ve learnt my lesson, don’t let anyone in.
I remain impassive, staring at her as she searches my face for a sign of my feelings.
I can feel the tears well in my eyes as she watches me. She’s so cold, it’s like she thinks she can fool me into thinking she doesn’t care but I know she does. I know she’s hurting and I’m accountable. I know how hard she’s worked to be where she is professionally, and she’s walking away from this job because of me.
I blinked rapidly to avoid embarrassing myself further by sobbing in her office. Her face softens for a moment and I take a shaky breath to steady myself.
“You don’t need to leave” I plead quietly. I hear her sigh and force myself to meet her eyes. They are as captivating as always, even when their full of pain.
“I do. I can’t concentrate around you, Jo.” She breathes.
“It’s better this way, I can move on with my life and you can put this behind you. Chalk it up to curiosity and find some nice guy to sweep you off your feet”. Dylan gives me a sad smile that doesn’t touch her eyes.
“And if I don’t want that?”
Her phone rings, interrupting her train of thought. She answers quickly.
“Yeah, I’ll be right there” she mutters into the receiver. Dylan stands smoothing canlı bahis siteleri down her shirt, and approaches me. I hold my breath instinctively.
“I have to go” she says, and she walks past me. She makes every effort to avoid touching me or making eye contact. I watch her pause for a second as she pulls open the door.
“I’m here until the Christmas break so we only have to get through a month.” She runs a hand through her hair before glancing at me. “Maybe we can be friends Jo, I don’t know. But I need some space right now. Please”. She sounds almost like she’s begging.
I gave her, her space. I realised that, for the entire time I had known Dylan, she had prioritized my feelings and the least I could do was take hers into consideration now. So I stayed away and tried to supress any urges to speak with her with the exception of necessary work related topics.
Outside of work I had pretty much withdrawn into my own shell, studiously avoiding leaving the house for fear that I would run into her, or stumble across something that reminded me of her. So I stayed at home on the couch and consistently turned down every attempt Jess made to coax my out of self imposed exile. Two weeks in, Jess walked through the door to find me exactly as she’d left me three hours earlier, prone on the couch blanked out.
She rolled her eyes as she plonked down beside me.
“Not really” I grouched, not shifting my gaze from the tv.
“In that case, you wanna go do something? Get a drink?”
“No thanks” I automatically responded.
I heard her sigh in frustration at my response.
“Ok then, let’s stay in. Shall we cook or order in? We could do a movie night?”
“I don’t really feel like-” I started.
“JOANNA LEE ANDREWS, THAT IS ENOUGH” Jess snapped.
I was startled by her response and looked at her incredulously.
“What?” I squeaked in confusion.
“How long are you going to punish yourself for?” she fumed.
“I’m not punishing myself”
“No? You’ve practically lived on that couch for two weeks. What do you call that?”
I shrugged at her, and turned back to the tv but Jess grabbed the remote and switched it off. Taking a deep breath, she moved to sit in front of me, trapping me into meeting her eyes.
“Is she giving you a hard time?” Jess cut straight to the chase.
“No, she’s been fine.” She had been. She was cordial and polite but so incredibly distant, I could practically see the walls she was building around herself. The walls I’d made her need. My eyes misted and I blinked back tears.
Before I knew it, I was wrapped in Jess’ arms. She attempted to soothe me as she rubbed my back as I tried not to sob into her shirt.
“I’m sick of seeing you cry Jo” she whispered.
“I hurt her” I said in a small voice. “She was nothing but good to me and I treated her like shit. You should see her, Jess, she’s suffering and it’s my fault”.
“Ok, so you acted like a bit of a dick.”
I giggled slightly at Jess’ bluntness through my tears. She pulled me back to look at her, grasping my hands with sincerity.
“You’ve apologized Jo. I know you, I know you wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone. I bet Dylan knows that too. But break ups are shitty and hard so you need to cut yourself some slack.”
She leant forward and wiped the tears from my face.
“I am not going to sit here and let you beat yourself up anymore. So, tonight we are going to eat a shit tonne of ice cream and watch sappy movies. Ok?”
I nodded at her but she wasn’t finished.
“And tomorrow, we are done with this funk. I’m going to call Nick and set you up on a date”
“No, no, no” I squeaked, removing my hands from hers as I shook my head. “I can’t”.
“Bullshit Joanna, of course you can. You need to move on and stop feeling like one relationship defines you”.
Jess was looking at me with a determined expression, I had known her a long time and I knew when she had that look, she meant business.
“I can’t Jess, please” I pleaded.
“Give me one good reason why not?”
“Because I….” I searched in my mind for an answer. “I don’t even know who I would want to date at this point. After Dylan….I don’t know if I want to be with a man or a woman. Maybe I’m not into women..maybe I’m just into Dylan, I don’t know”. I realized I was rambling and stopped.
“Well are you finding the answers watching re-runs of coronation street?” Jess asked, raising her eyebrows at me. I frowned at her but didn’t answer.
“Humor me Jo, go on one date and if you don’t like it then fine but give yourself a chance.”
“I’m not ready to date again”
“What’s there to be ready for? You go talk and eat some food. It might help you to start working out all the shit in your head about your sexuality.”
I opened my mouth to reply but Jess cut me off.
“You’re going, Jo. I refuse to watch you wallow, so put on your big girl panties and I’ll let you know when I’ve arranged it” she stood, signalling she was done talking.
“But, if the date goes well feel free to take those panties right back off again” she winked and sauntered away.
“Chocolate or strawberry ice cream?” she called back over her shoulder.
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