Chapter 21- Loose Ends
With my bags and boxes packed I knew there were some people I still needed to talk to. I’d turned in my resignation to my boss and she’d done everything in her power to convince me to stay. She’d offered me a raise and creative control. It was too late. I wanted something that was mine.
I leashed Rex up and headed down the street to the park. I let him off and he ran around the park happily yipping. I’d have to find good place to take him near our new home. Soon another dog joined him and recognizing Buddy I looked over to see El and Zane pushing Aiden in a stroller.
“What a happy coincidence,” I called over to them. They came over to me and I leaned over, making silly faces at Aiden causing him to giggle. “Out for a cold stroll?”
“We figured you be here,” Zane said with a smile. “We wanted to talk with you.”
I frowned. “That sounds serious. What’s up?”
“Is it true your leaving?” El asked gently. My eyes widened in shock.
“Yeah, I am. I’m loading up tomorrow to head out. I was going to come see you guys tonight and say goodbye. How did you know?” I asked confused. The only person who knew was Jax, and my boss I guess.
“Jax may have tipped us off. Why are you going?”
I buried my hands in my pockets and swirled my feet through the small layer of snow still on the ground. “I know it’s sudden. But being home with my family for the holiday made me realize how important family is. I’ve missed them. And my parents have offered to help me achieve my dream. I’m going to start working on my own bakery.”
El smiled brightly. “Oh Sofia we are so happy for you. I know you’ve been too scared to do it here but hopefully with you parents help you can succeed.” She looked to Zane then back at me quickly. “But we will miss you. And we just wanted to make sure this wasn’t some rush decision because of Jax and everything else.”
I huffed, my breath showing up in a puff. “It’s not about him or Olivia. I honestly think this is what I need. I’ve been running from myself for a long time. I’m sick of running, I’m ready to settle in and do what makes me happy.”
Zane smiled at me. “That’s all we want for you Sof. Keep in touch ok?” I nodded and reached out to pull each of them into a hug. I stopped to kiss Aiden’s head then whistled for Rex. He came running and I leashed him.
“I’ve got some others I need to see. Thanks for finding me you guys.” They both nodded and waved as I headed back to my house.
I dropped Rex off and jumped into my car. Music blaring I headed toward Liv’s apartment. I needed to make things right with her before I could leave. Even if she never forgave me for what happened. I parked and headed in, stopping in front of her door. I took a deep breath before raising my fist to knock.
The door opened after a few moments. I hadn’t seen Liv in weeks and coming face fo face with her again I felt embarrassed. We had acted like children, treating Jax like our play toy. I smiled through my emotions. “Hey Liv can we talk?” I expected her to slam the door in my face. I was surprised when she turned and walked to the living room leaving the door open behind her.
Closing the door behind me I followed her to the couch and sat down on the opposite end. We sat there in silence for a moment. “I heard your leaving,” Liv finally spoke first.
The breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding whooshed out. “Yes I am. I’m moving back home.”
She studied me for a moment. “So what brings you here?”
I fiddled with my fingers, trying to decide how to start this conversation. “Look Liv, I’m really sorry. I’ve realized that we let our competitive natures cause us to hurt each other. I’m not proud of my actions and I wanted to apologize. I treated you and Jax wrong and I wanted to own that.” Silence filled the room once I stopped talking.
Liv looked at me, her stare seemingly empty. “I’ll admit Sof, I obviously like to win. I mean look at my profession. And when you said you were going out with Jax as well I may have taken things a bit too far.” I smiled at her warmly.
I reached out and took her hands in mine. “Our friendship has always been important to me. I should have respected you and stepped away. Lust makes us do crazy things.”
She laughed and smiled back at me. “I’ll admit Jax is a very cool guy. He’s easy to like. But even when we were on dates it never felt like he was...there with me. When he came to me that day and wanted to have sex with me I just felt... victory. I’d won and gotten what I wanted. That next day I came to gloat. It was a competition and I’d felt like I’d won, even if I hadn’t really. I didn’t realize how much it would hurt you. I’m sorry as well.”
We sat there for a few moments in companionable silence. It felt like a darkness that had been hovering over me was dissolving. This hadn’t been me. I wasn’t this competitive person who hurts those she loves. I took a deep breath and pulled Liv into a gentle hug.
“I know you care about him though, as a friend. Look after him for me will you.” She nodded, her head resting on my shoulder. I pulled away with a smile. “I’ve got one more person I really need to see. Keep in touch ok?” She nodded again.
“Sof,” she called out. I turned to look at her. “I hope you find everything your looking for.”
I smiled again. “You too Olivia.” I left her apartment feeling much better than I had in weeks.
It was Saturday and I knew Spencer would be at the community center coaching the youth basketball. I headed over feeling lighter after my meeting with Liv. I walked into the gym and scouted the area for Spencer. He stood to the sidelines, a whistle dangling out of his mouth and his arms crossed as he watched the boys run a play. With a smile I headed over to him.
“Hey coach!” I called out. Spencer turned to me, his lips twisting up at the corners.
“Hey stranger, how’s it going?” I stopped next to him and bumped him with my shoulder.
“It’s going well actually. I’ve got some big news.”
His face went pale. “Please don’t tell me your pregnant.” For a split second I looked at his scared and serious face then I burst out laughing. I doubled over my knees clutching my belly. Spencer gave a soft disbelieving laugh next to me.
Finally I straightened, wiping tears of laughter from the corner of my eyes. “No Spence, not pregnant.”
He frowned. “Getting married?”
I held my laughter in this time. I hooked my arm through his and rested my head against his bicep. “Nothing that life changing Spence. I’m moving back to California.” He stayed completely still next to me.
“What brought that on?” He knew better than anyone why I had left in the first place. He’d been my rock, my soundboard, my confidant the whole time I had lived here.
“It’s time Spence. My parents are behind me now and ready to help me achieve my dream.”
He nodded slowly his brows furrowed. “As long as your happy Sof, that’s all I’ve ever wanted.” We stood there next to each other watching the boys continue to play basketball. I knew I’d miss this. Spence has really been a great friend to me, before all the sex and stuff. I would miss him greatly.
“When do you leave?”
I sighed. “Tomorrow?”
“I didn’t have the heart to tell everyone until right before. You guys might have convinced me to stay.”
“And what about Jax?”
I shook my head. “We are over. It wasn’t going to work.” Spencer’s eyes moved over the boys, his posture stiff as I continued to lean against him.
“I think it could have worked if you’d let it.”
I snapped my head in his direction. Confusion playing across my face. “You couldn’t stand Jax, Spence,” I said in disbelief.
He shrugged gently. “I was upset you chose him over me. I know you better than he does. But I realize that I don’t make you light up like he does. Even just mentioning him has you grinning.” I quickly wiped the smile off my face. He laughed lightly. “The heart wants what it wants Sof. I think you should try to make it work.”
I shook my head pulling away slightly. “We both have so much to work on Spence. I need to focus on myself and my dream right now. Jax has some issues you don’t even know about. Our relationship isn’t good for either of us right now. Maybe in the future.”
Spencer’s arm wrapped around me and pulled me into a side hug. “As long as your happy Sof.”
“Why does everyone keep saying that,” I grumbled. Spencer smiled down at me.
“Because you’ve always been there for everyone else. You are so selfless Sof,” I glared at him, “Most of the time.” We stood there in our side hug for while longer, just enjoying being in each other’s company. I would miss this. It felt right again, like friends. Like the sexual intamacy had never happened, like it shouldn’t have.
Finally I pulled away. “I have to get home Spence, long day of driving tomorrow.” He reaches out and ruffled my hair.
“Take care kid. And keep in touch. I’ll have to come visit you and the beach soon.” I smiled.
“I would love that.”
I drove home feeling better about my decision. Everyone was being so supportive of my decision. I was sad to leave my friends but it felt right. Like for once in my life I was going in the correct direction.
Once I got home I walked through each room making sure I’d packed everything up. My home looked so different all empty. I plopped down on the couch and Rex jumped up next to me.
“Ready for a new start bud?” I asked him while scratching his ear. He painted happily me to me and I smiled. My heart ached slightly at what I was leaving behind but was beating for this next adventure.