It was still raining outside and almost close to dusk. Matthew and I laid motionlessly in his bed, staring at the ceiling. Neither of us said anything nor did we look at each other.
We just laid there in silence, listening to the rain outside.
We had sex – again. I knew what I was getting myself into when I allowed him to do whatever he wanted with me when I should have declined. But I still let it happen despite knowing the consequences and complications that awaited me.
I darn jinxed myself when I said that he was only taking me to his place to dry off and not sleep with him, didn’t i?
“Beverley.” He broke the silence. I could see him turning to his side to look at me from my peripheral vision.
“Mhm?” I answered, my gaze still fixed on the ceiling above us.
“Sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself that you are when you’re not.”
I exhaled a sigh. “I’m just trying to process all this.” I answered honestly this time, looking at my hands that were balled into fists around the sheets that covered my breasts.
“Do you have any regrets?”
“No!” my tone was sharp but firm.
Was it a bad move to sleep with him again?
Yes it was.
Was I disappointed that I succumbed to my desire and gave into him so easily?
But did I regret it?
Astoundingly no – and that was the crazy thing I was trying to process.
“No…” I repeated. “It’s just…I never expected to be here again with you.”
“Why is that?”
“You did tell me to leave what happened between us in Eaglesvale, so I assumed you’d be the first out of the both of us to move on.” I frowned, feeling a twinge of sadness in my chest and throat.
And because of Lenore, I wanted to add but I decided against it.
It confused me more than it hurt me when he thought about the person who left him when he was with me.
It hurt me more than it angered me when he told me to move on from that night like it was nothing.
It was difficult to process and comprehend because all these feelings were coming at me at once and I didn’t know what to make of them.
But there was no denying that it created a void in my chest and I hated it.
“Hey.” He said softly. “look at me.”
“Look at me.” He repeated insistently.
With reluctance, I eventually turned to look at him. “I never forgot about that night.” He told me. “I tried to but I couldn’t.£
“So why tell me to forget about it?” my voice cracked a little.
“Because I thought that’s what you wanted.” He answered. “You just ran off and avoided me without telling me why or what I did wrong, so I assumed it had something to do with us sleeping together
“But as it turns out, it was because you thought I was thinking of someone else when I was with you.” He said, guilt glimmering in his eyes.
“Why?” I asked.
I studied him closely. Judging from his silence and the way he bit his lip; he was either thinking of an excuse or the real reason why it happened without it coming out the wrong way. “I dunno.” He shrugged. “Something about you kind of reminded me of her, I guess.”
“So you were projecting your feelings for her on to me.” I frowned.
“No. Not at all.” He quickly interjected. “It’s just…” he sighed. “I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it’s because it’s been long since I talked to someone with contrasting views or someone who’s the opposite of me.”
I pursed my lips and didn’t say a word. “Please don’t take it the wrong way. I know you and Lenore are two different people.” He said. “I don’t have anything to explain why it happened. I really wish I did but unfortunately I don’t.”
“What really happened between you and Lenore?” I asked. “What went wrong?”
I watched his eyes slowly avert from mine as he exhaled a sigh. I saw a familiar sad look take over his face. The same look he wore the first time he talked about her.
“That’s what I’ve been asking myself ever since she left.” He said. “She wasn’t always vocal about what goes on in her life and I respected that. I didn’t pry but choice to wait for her to open up when she felt ready to. So that’s what I did; I waited and waited for her to trust me enough to share her burdens the same way I did her.”
“What burdens?” I asked, turning over to my side.
He was silent again.
“There was a lot going on in my life before I met her – before I even started working at Queens.” He started, “My father was serving in the military the greater part of my life. My mother was fighting against breast cancer ever since I graduated university. I had to take up the role of being the man in the house, handling the bills while my father was away.” He let out a sardonic laugh. “You can imagine how overwhelming it was working as a photographer with some part time jobs on the side trying to make ends meet while worry about your mother’s health and whether your father was coming back home alive or in a body bag. But I had to be strong. I had to keep hoping for the best.
I suddenly felt a new found respect for Matthew. Though I couldn’t relate with his experience, I commended him for keeping his head high during that dark period in his life – or at least try to. If it were me, I doubt if I would have had that much hope and resilience as he did during that time.
“Did Maren know?” I asked. He looked at me. “You two are close and with how she can easily read people, I would assume that she would know after poking it out of you.”
“I am an open person.” He said. “I am open about my experiences so I can offer guidance to those who need it,” He paused. “but I’m not always open about my struggles and personal problems especially when it comes to Maren. Given that I’m here mentor, I have this obligation to be someone she looks up to.
“But with Lenore, it felt so easy to open up and talk about them – probably because she’s older than me and that she listens – but still.” He said. “It felt nice someone I could lean on for support and help pick myself up when I was at my lowest and started losing hope.”
His sad expression was then replaced by a smile. It was a sad and nostalgic smile as he was recalling the memory of the woman he loved but he seemed to have some appreciation of it no matter how sad and painful it was. And that small smile that tugged his lips was confirmation of that.
She really was special to him, I thought, unable to stop the jealousy that stirred in my chest – jealous that she still had that much importance in his life even after leaving him. It also made me sad knowing that I didn’t have a chance nor could I be as special as she was to him.
It was ridiculous that I was thinking that way since we weren’t together. We had sex but that didn’t mean that we were together by default. There was still a lot I didn’t know about him and a lot he didn’t know about me. I had to remind myself that it was my first time being close and intimate with someone. Matthew was experience while I on the other hand didn’t know what I was doing. I had never interacted or felt this type of attraction towards a guy until he came into the picture.
I was basically acting like a teenage girl going through puberty and just discovered that I like cute boys while understanding what those feelings meant. It was all so new to me and a lot to process. It was exciting but scary at the same time.
“When did she leave?” I asked.
“Two months before the Eaglesvale trip.” He told me. “I remember taking her out to our favourite place. Everything went on okay. I was happy. She was happy. We were both happy.” His smile faltered a little. “We slept together that night. By the time I woke up the next day, she was gone. I tried calling her for week after that but she completely shut me out and that’s when everything came crushing down.”
My chest squeezed with sadness as I watched the sad look return.
”I blamed myself for her leaving since then.” He said. “Maybe I did something wrong without knowing it. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention to her. Maybe I didn’t do enough.”
“It wasn’t your fault.” I said. He looked at me. “You did what you could for her. There just wasn’t any communication. I don’t know her personally so I can’t make a judgement on her character but from what I can ascertain, she must have been a wonderful person.”
“She is.” He agreed. “She’s a bit blunt and pessimistic but overall a nice person.”
“Do you miss her?”
“Sometimes. But she’s gone now. I just hope she’s happy wherever she is.”
I hummed averting my eyes from his and said nothing further.
I looked at him.
“I’m sorry for making you feel like you’re a placeholder for Lenore.” He said sincerely. “I can’t imagine how hard it was especially when I’m your first.”
“I’m sorry too.” I responded. “For avoiding you and making you feel like you forced me into sleeping with you. It’s just that I avoid talking about my feelings because I don’t like feeling weak and vulnerable.”
“Talking about your feeling doesn’t make you weak and vulnerable. It just shows your willingness to share your burdens with someone.” He said. “Besides, I don’t mind it. I get to see a different side of you besides the usual quiet and reserved side of you.”
There he goes again. Seeing the positives in the negatives. A quality I had grown to like about him. A quality I had grown to appreciate. A quality that slowly intensified my dormant infatuation towards him.
“Can I kiss you?” he asked.
I blushed, surprised by the request but I didn’t protest against it. Instead, I slowly nodded, consenting to his request.
My breath hitched slightly when he moved his hand to cup my face. My heart was racing fast as he moved closer to me brushing his nose against mine, closing the gap between our lips. His lips touched mine gently and softly, rubbing his thumb across my cheek. I sighed, closing my eyes, and melted into hid touch.
I knew this path I had chosen was as dangerous as walking on thin ice – but I didn’t care. I wanted him not in a way I had ever wanted a man. I wanted him to know that he had me, that I was willing to be his if he wanted me to, that I was willing to explore these feelings while healing his broke heart.
And that brought me to the question I should have asked:
Did he still have feelings for Lenore?
That question alone was a deciding factor on where we stood from there and the way forward for the both of us. If we should put a stop to what we were doing before one of us got hurt or continue with this affair. But I chose not to for two reasons:
It wasn’t really my place to ask and I should give him time to heal,
I was too scared to know his answers since there were two possible outcomes from his answer.
His answer was either going to give me hope that maybe I had a chance to pursue him and explore these new founds feelings I had with him granted if he said that he didn’t have feeling for her.
Or his answer was going to break me beyond repair and leave me miserable for God knows how long granted if he said that he still did have feelings for her.
And I’ll be damned if his answer was the latter.