Chapter 10: Aidan
I sat in the parking lot of my office building around 9 pm, well after closing hours, trying to get my shit together. Lucy was upstairs waiting for me to talk to her about the details of this little extravaganza I was going on, and I was dreading it. I’d been working up to asking Lucy out, and now I had to tell her that I was taking a different woman with me on a two-week business trip.
I was hoping that it didn’t ruin my chances with her, but I was also conflicted because I’d almost kissed Callie in her room. I’d wanted it more than I’d wanted anything in a long time. Which confused me because I loved Lucy, and had for years. I’m sure it’d just been the intensity of the moment with Callie that made me feel like hauling her over onto my lap and seeing if the taste of her mouth was as addictive as her voice. I swear Callie’s voice was even more alluring than her normal voice when she recited that poem to me. And I already thought her normal voice was hot as hell. It was like she’d put a spell on me with her words, drowning me in the cadence.
I could feel my body responding to the memory again and glared at my crotch. Calm down buddy, you’re not getting near her any time soon. I shook my head at myself and jumped out of the car to head to my office to deal with this shit.
I walked into the lobby and took a moment to stare at the quote I’d had etched into the wall behind the reception desk. It was something my adoptive parents had always said to me, and seeing as they’d inspired my business, I’d only felt it was right to include it. I read the words and could hear my mom’s voice in my head.
“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” It’d been coined by Andrea Dykstra, and I had heard it said so many times I didn’t need to read the words but I liked to anyway. I felt a buzzing in my pocket and pulled out my phone to see a text from Lucy.
Are you going to stare at the wall all night or are you going to come up and talk to me? A smiley face followed in another text a second later and I looked up to the second level with a grin. I saw Lucy waving to me from the glass window of the conference room that she liked to use when her desk space wasn’t enough. I jogged up the stairs and opened the door to find architectural plans splayed all across the table.
“I figured since you were moving the trip up by a couple days that I would just double check and make sure I didn’t miss anything before you took my babies away.” Lucy grinned at me before leaning down to adjust a line or two on the plans. Lucy was the designer of the two of us, which meant she would plan the buildings, what went inside, and how everything was organized.
My part of the job was more hands on. I found the land, made sure everything went smoothly when building, and decided which of our employees would be handling the day-to-day operations for each venue.
Lucy liked to tease that I was the heart of the operation, but she was the brains. Since I had no mind for planning architecture on paper, I was grateful that she did and that I could trust her. I would tell Lucy what I was imagining for a space and she would draw it up almost perfectly. I could read her plans well enough to know if something wasn’t quite right and she helped me with making sure we had the right people on our teams.
“This looks great, Lucy. Thanks again.”
She waved my gratitude away without looking up at me. “This is the fifth building we’ve put up Aidan. You don’t have to thank me every time. It’s my job.”
“Yeah, but it’s more than just a job to me.”
She finally looked up with sympathy in her warm brown eyes. “I know that Aidan. That’s one thing I love about you.”
My heart beat harder and I could feel my forehead start to sweat a little with what I had to say next. “So... Do you think there’s any chance you could book an extra ticket for my flight tomorrow?”
“I can try. What’s up?”
“I uh… I’m taking someone with me.” She stared at me. I sweat a little more. “I can get you whatever information of hers you need to book the ticket.”
Her eyes bugged a little. “Her??”
“Yeah. Her name is Callie. We’ve been dating for a few months and she just had an accident and needs someone with her for a bit so I decided that she could just come with me plus then I can show her what I do and-”
“Okay Aidan,” Lucy held out a hand to stop me from continuing to blab. “I don’t need every single detail or reason.” She smiled warmly at me. “I’m happy you’re dating someone, although just a tad offended I haven’t heard about her before now. Seriously though, congratulations! I want to meet her soon.” She hugged me quickly and then went back to her plans. I just stood there, completely shocked.
“Um yeah, okay.” The words strangled out of my throat. I felt like I’d been sucker punched in the stomach and I couldn’t breathe. She was genuinely happy for me to be dating someone else, and all this time I thought that my efforts to make something happen between us was heading in the right direction.
“If you come back in the morning I’ll have your tickets and the plans ready to go in plenty of time for your flight. Now go home and get some sleep, I’m sure you’ve got a long day ahead of you tomorrow.” She physically shooed me out of the room, and I was still too dumbstruck to argue or fight.
I’d been best friends with her brother Nick since middle school so I’d known and loved her for well over ten years. And now it felt like it was all for nothing. I stared at Lucy for a minute before heading back out to my car. I somehow made it home safely and into bed without paying any attention to my surroundings. I shot off a quick email to Lucy with Callie’s information that I knew (thanks to Aphrodite) to get her a ticket. I stared up at my ceiling and tried to understand how lost I suddenly felt until I fell into a restless sleep.
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