I caught a cab home, the drive was long and silent. By the time i arrived the day was halfway gone and I had a lot to do still. I spent hours picking up the mess I’d left behind after I’d spent hours getting ready for Alec’s big night. Shoes, underwear, bras and other countless items lay around the floor of my bedroom and along my bed.
After I made dinner and ate alone, I slipped into bed but not before sending Alec a goodnight text and receiving one in return.
The next morning was uneventful as I woke up and dressed for work. My stomach was settling, the small bundle inside of me was calm, letting me keep my breakfast. Pulling the apron over my head I tied it around my waist, grabbed my purse and pulled out my keys before leaving the house.
As I drove down the small cobble streets of the town, I received curious and disapproving stares and glances. Everyone knew everyone, so it was no secret as to what had happened. A lot of people liked to over look the fact that Sarah had wormed her way into Alec’s life and instead they all focused on how I had slept with my best friend behind my other best friends back and now I was pregnant. The fingers were pointed right at me.
I tried not to let it get to me, but shame is a very strong evil emotion that latched onto you.
I parked the car and walked into Peters flowers, the ever overwhelming smell of fresh flower and soil was potent. The bell above the door dinged alerting Mrs. Holtz that I had arrived.
Walking around the short checkout counter I made my way into the back. I had a large arrangement for a funeral that needed to be finished.
“Good morning” a low male voice muttered as a flash of blonde hair swept past me, swiftly disappearing into the front of the store.
“Morning” I muttered as I washed my hands at the small sink. Usually Mrs. Holtz was here to open the store with me, she was always the first to greet me. So where was she? It wasn’t a large store, so she wasn’t exactly hiding.
“Where is your mom?” I asked Brian as I grabbed the assorted flowers the order required.
“She and my father are visiting Peters grave today and taking the day for themselves”
Oh. I felt so bad for Mrs. Holtz, I couldn’t even imagine losing a child. The anguish, the heartbreak. To have to watch them slowly lose life day after day, I shuddered and continued to tie the silk white bows. The bell above the door rang periodically throughout the day, more requests and some easy sales. A Rose here, a sun flower there, Brian worked the register and the floor.
We avoided making eye contact, when he handed me an order he avoided any and all physical contact. The air between us was awkward and slightly hostile.
I worked through my break despite the hunger pains and dizziness. By the end of the day my hands were aching, my feet were swollen and my stomach was roaring.
Brian came from the front room and stepped dead in his tracks as his eyes roamed me from head to toe. I felt myself swaying slightly and gripped the counter in a tight grip to keep myself up.
I should have eaten. Even if it had been something small, I should have eaten. It wasn’t just myself anymore.
“Cassandra are you ok?” He asked, concern and weariness swirling behind his eyes. He reached out to me before pulling his hand back sharply.
I nodded, “I’m fine. I just... I shouldn’t have skipped lunch.” I said still mentally scolding myself at my carelessness.
He seemed to think something over before he opened his mouth, “Let me take you to get something to eat before you fall over”
I grimaced, “No i don’t think that’s such a good idea” I said.
He scowled, “Yeah cause driving home while your pale as a ghost and shaking like a leaf is a good idea” he held up his hands as I opened my mouth to tell him off but closed it as he spoke once more, “Look, I’m simply worried. We can go through a drive through, you can order and eat on the way back and then you can go home” he explained.
I chewed on my lower lip, contemplating. I couldn’t exactly drive, I didn’t want to risk getting into an accident. I found myself nodding before I’d even fully come to agreeable with the decision.
“Let me get my keys” he said.
I pulled out my phone, turning it back on as I didn’t like to have it on during work hours.
Messages from my parents popped up but nothing from Alec. I couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing.
Shoving the phone back into my pocket I pulled off the apron slowly careful as to not move to quickly, I didn’t want another dizzy spell as I was still getting over the last one. I placed the apron on the large wooden table where I prepare the flowers and headed towards the front. The space was vacant as Brian had already closed up. The sun had set and the dark blue night had taken over the sky.
Brian’s Keys jingled from behind me alerting me of his presence. His letterman jacket encased his upper body, he sported his usual golden boy look. He gave me a small awkward smile, “Ready?”
I nodded and followed him outside.
His car and my car were the only two vehicles left on the small lot. He unlocked the door and I climbed into the passenger seat. There was a nervous ball in the pit of my stomach.
We pulled out of the parking lot, driving back downtown. Thankfully as darkness had fallen most of the towns people had gone home, so nobody was around to watch with beady, judgmental eyes as I rode in the car with the towns Golden Boy.
“What are you hungry for?” He asked.
“A burger?” I wasn’t to sure what exactly I was hungry for but at this point I think I’d eat grass.
“Ok” he said heading towards the nearest fast food restaurant. There was a long awkward silence that stretched between us. I shifted in my seat, trying hard not to look at him. As we pulled through the drive through, Brian ordered for both of us. I tried to pay, but he wouldn’t let me.
On the way back I ate my meal in continued silence. I was beginning to feel a little bit better.
As we pulled back into the parking lot i said a quick “Thank you” and moved to unbuckle my seat, a hand was placed on mine, stopping me. His hand was warm and clammy.Slowly I peeked up at him. His face was masked with guilt, anger and unknown emotion I couldn’t put my finger on. His hand lifted from mine and I felt as if I could breath again.
“I’m sorry” he blurted, his cheeks turning a dark pink, “I had no idea things would turn out the way they had” he said.
A sudden surge of anger took over and I glared at him, “How exactly did you think things would turn out? You pretended to be my friend and took everything I said back to Sarah while you were fucking her” I swiftly unbuckled and was out of the car before he could respond.
Striding over to my car I pulled out my keys and was suddenly pulled back, a harsh grip on my upper arm stopped me.
“I never told Sarah anything that was said between us” he gritted out between clenched teeth. It was obvious how much this topic bothered him, but so what? It bothered me to.
With my back to my car, I faced him looking fierce, “What do you want from me?!” I cried out.
He stepped closer as I stepped back, the car hitting my backside, “I want to be your friend again Cas. I messed up, but I never told her anything that was spoken between us.”
I had been going back and forth for the last week and a half, I couldn’t make up my mind. Did I forgive Brian?
Sometimes I thought I missed his presence and other times I cursed him to hell.
Was his actions really that hurtful? He’d had a relationship with Sarah, but had it really affected our friendship?
No, it had just felt like a betrayal at the time.
“How can I believe you? How do I know you never said anything to her? That you weren’t her pigeon, carrying messages back and forth?” I could feel the walls tumbling, wanting to let him in but still slightly afraid.
Alec would be so angry.
He looked lost, not knowing what to say. He let out a long sigh and scrubbed a hand down his face, “I can tel you a million times over that I wasn’t tell her anything we’d talked about but I have a feeling it would do no good. You don’t trust me and I don’t blame you.... but .... can you give me a chance to try and earn that trust back?” He said his eyes pleading with mine, “Please”
I thought on it, the silence in the air was thick. My thoughts were screaming at me, going back and forth simply debating.
“Ok” I said softly, “ok”
The following days I slept better than I had in awhile and I didn’t want to think that it was because of Brian.
Alec was supposed to come over tomorrow and I was almost dreading it. I had to tell him about Brian but I knew he was going to be furious. Those two hated each other.
“So dear how are things going?”
I blinked up at mother, I had completely spaced out. “Things are ok, I’ve got a doctors appointment coming up. I’m almost six weeks.” I tapped my fingers on the wooden surface of her small country kitchen table, the soft cushioned seat beneath me making the kitchen table chair even more comfortable.
A grin spread across her face, “I can’t wait to be a grandma” she said excitedly turning back towards the counter, beginning to knead her dough.
I laughed, my mother was getting everything she wanted. This was exactly what she’d been asking for. I, however wasn’t to sure. The moment I saw my baby on the screen I fell in love but I also knew that the circumstances were not good and i had never really thought of having children before. Would I even be good at the whole parenting thing?
“Cassandra are you ok?” My mother asked coming to stand beside me.
I nodded, “Yeah i just have a lot on my mind”
She pursed her lips and continued to stare at me before she turned and walked back to the counter to continue readying the dough for her famous apple pie. “Cassandra come here and slice some apples for me please”
I complied and we stood next to each other in her large kitchen preparing her desert. We talked, we laughed, I ended up telling her about the party at Alecs and that’s when she fell silent. She took out a pie pan and placed the dough inside, forming it around the tin.
I glanced at her from the corner of my eye and couldn’t push aside the feeling that she had something she wanted to say. I also had a feeling she didn’t exactly know how to say whatever it was she wanted to say.
After a few moments,she placed her hands on the counter and hung her head before lifting it, her eyes meeting mine.
“Cassandra... I need to be frank about this entire situation” she said.
My gut clenched and my heart thumped heavily in my chest. I knew these were words I didn’t want to hear.
“Ok” I whispered out. I placed the knife down and set the apples aside.
She sighed and suddenly she looked much older than I’d ever seen her before, “At first I was happy that you and Alec finally got together, I mean it didn’t take a genius to figure out that you had a crush on him in high school, you wore your heart on your sleeve” she looked at me with such tenderness, “you still do dear. Alec has been a sweet bright boy but from everything you’ve told me... I don’t know Cassandra. I don’t think he’s good for you. It takes two to tango, and you’ve done your share of bad things Cassandra. You had an affair with your best friend who in turn was dating your other best friend. You all have done horrible things, especially to each other and I feel that everything that led up to you and Alec being together, not the affair but you’re actual relationship, I feel that it’s a dangerous and unhealthy relationship”
Tears clouded my vision and a lump clogged my throat as I tried to breath through the anguish. I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t because deep down in my heart I knew the truth.