I Love You
Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow. What is she doing here? And…and why does she have a kid? And why is said kid named after…me? Ashley stared at me as I did the same. I don’t know how long we were looking at each other but Andrea started to giggle and I looked down at her.
“Is she yours? I mean, did she uh…come from you?” I asked nervously. Ashley nodded and shook her head, trying to make sense of all of this. “Um…yeah. Yes. This is my daughter, Andrea West. She’s three" she answered.
I smiled at the brown haired toddler and she smiled back at me. “Mommy, who’s this?” she asked, putting her thumb back in her mouth. I stiffened; so did Ashley. “I’m your mom’s old friend,” I said, hoping nothing was awkward. Obviously, Ashley had moved on. She has a child for God’s sake.
“My name’s Andrea too” I added. Andrea smiled and pointed at herself and then tugged on Ashley’s shirt. “Mommy, her name is Andrea too!” she shrieked happily.
I laughed. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of children but seeing how adorable little Andrea was, I couldn’t help but smile. Plus…she was Ashley’s daughter.
“Um, do you wanna go somewhere and talk?” she asked, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear and shifting little Andrea on to her other hip. “Uh, yeah. Yeah sure” I replied.
We walked down the street and I kept looking over at her. She looked slightly different but there was no doubt about it. This was Ashley. The girl who spent hours over my house hanging out with my brothers and Davey. The girl who would smile at me and make my heart stop. The girl who had showed me what it felt like to love and be loved back. She was my heart and deep down…I was scared about what this reunion meant.
I came to New York to be with Paris but when I get here, I bump into the girl who I could never get over. The girl who I think I could possibly still be in love with. But, there’s no way I could ever say that. She has a child and probably is married and living a happy life. I can’t break that up just because of how I used to feel.
Ashley looked over at me and blushed slightly. “You haven’t changed,” she said softly. I arched my brows. “What?” I asked, putting my hands in my sweater pockets.
“Your hair has gotten longer, you’ve gotten taller but you haven’t changed at all. You’re so nervous right now. I can tell. If you wanna ask me something, just ask”, she replied, stroking little Andrea’s hair.
I opened my mouth to say something but quickly shut it. She was right. Damn her and always being able to read my movements. “Are you married?” I asked, walking beside her.
She shook her head. “No” she replied. “Have you ever been married?” Damn, why do I sound like Liz all of a sudden? “No” she repeated. I looked down at little Andrea in her arms and then back at her.
“Then…um, where did little A come from?” I asked shyly. She chuckled and smiled at me. “Little A? Did you just make that up?” she laughed softly. I just shrugged, smiling to myself.
“Well, let’s just say that I made some dumb mistakes in Texas. Of course, she wasn’t the mistake and I would never call her one. I just sometimes wish I would have waited a little longer before I had sex” she replied.
I nodded my head and she kept looking at me. I noticed her staring and smirked. “What?” I asked. “You’re not gonna ask? If I remember, you used to be very talkative,” she stated, turning a corner toward a small shop.
“Things change, I guess. I just thought that if you wanted me to know more, you would have continued telling me,” I said bluntly. She put Andrea down in a chair and then sat down. I took her lead and sat down across from her.
“So, what about you?” she asked, crossing her hands on the table. I shrugged. “What about me?”
“Don’t think I haven’t seen the pictures? Aren’t you and some model going out?”
“You’ve seen them too? Damn. News really does travel.”
“It sure does. So, how long have you two been together?”
“About a month.”
“Wow. So, you’re a new couple?”
“I guess you could say that.”
“He’s great. Got a new girlfriend and I barely see him now. She’s great though.”
“That’s good. Do you remember when McKenzie threw her drink on him in 9th grade?”
“Yes! She thought he was cheating on her because she heard someone in the girl’s locker room say his name but it was actually “Brady”. Aw man, it took him forever to forgive her.”
“Alex thought it was pretty funny.”
“So did I. I just couldn’t say anything because he’s my best friend.”
“Those days were fun. Do you remember when I snuck into your house senior year?”
“…That time when you spent the night?”
“Yeah…the first night we had…”
“Yeah, yeah I remember. I also remember Antony coming in and spotting us in bed.”
“God, he bit- he got really upset about that for a while.”
“He sure did. Luckily, he didn’t tell my mom.”
“How is Antoinette?”
“She’s alright. She’s been extremely nosey lately. She was really sick around my last year of college.”
“I know. Antony told me.”
“Antony? Antony got in touch with you?”
“Yes. He found me online and we talked for a while. He told me all about you and I…told him all about little A.”
I looked at the table. Antony knew about Ashley and Andrea and he didn’t tell me? Why didn’t he tell me?
Ashley looked at me and sighed. “Andie, it’s not what you think. He was trying to protect you. He thought if you knew he was talking to me, that you would try to come find me,” she said gently.
“Hell yeah I would. I loved you” I mumbled. Ashley smiled at me. “I loved you too, Andie." She was quiet for a moment and leaned back in her seat.
I glanced over at little A, fast asleep in her chair. Ashley pulled her in her arms, gently rocking her. She kissed the top of her head as little A yawned before snuggling closer to her mother.
“Around my first year of college…I met this guy. His name was what attracted to me to him in the first place. Andrew. Andy. I was also freaked out about the fact that he looked similar to you. I fell for him and hard but…the only reason I loved him was because he reminded me so much of you. I didn’t love him. I just loved the fact that he took my mind off of you. So, things got heavy a little too fast and the next thing I know, I’m four months pregnant and he’s on a plane to Minnesota to work for his dad. I was left alone with a child and I didn’t know what to do. I moved here and got a job as a hotel receptionist and that’s the story of Andrea."
I stared at her and she bit her lower lip as tears almost threatened to fall. I got up to sit on her side of the table. “Andie, I have never stopped loving you and I don’t think that I can. Please just…say something,” she pleaded as tears rolled down her face.
I frowned, wiping the tears away with my thumb as I cupped her face in my hands. “Ashley, I…I don’t know what to say. I loved you. It took me forever to get over you. I became a totally different person and I didn’t even know how to be me again. But then, Paris came along. She changed everything. What I feel for her...,” I said honestly, growing quiet as I spoke.
“Do you love her?” she asked, staring into my eyes. I stared back at her and hung my head. She sniffled and I looked back up at her.
“If I would have known this months ago, I would have gladly came and found you. I would have brought you back to California with me and helped you raise little A. I would have done whatever I needed to do…because I loved you. But now…"
She nodded and took one of my hands off her cheek and held it in her own. “Paris is pretty lucky to have you,” she said, laughing softly. I smiled at her and put my other hand on her chair.
“Andie, I just need to know,” she begged. I knew exactly what she wanted and even though I hesitated for a second, I knew I couldn’t resist her. She leaned toward me and her lips gently met mine. I moved my lips against hers.
I tasted something that I hadn’t tasted in years and the salt of her tears enhanced the taste on her lips. She slowly pulled away from me with her eyes closed as I watched her have an inner battle with herself.
“There’s no need to question it. I still love you,” she said softly. Little A moved slightly and we both looked at her. “She’s beautiful, you know?” I said, I stroking her hair.
She smiled and took Andrea’s small hand in hers. “I know,” she stated.“I left her at the hotel. I don’t want her to get lost and you know how Andie is. She’s probably out and about somewhere."
I turned around at the familiar voice and looked up to see Paris and Liz. “Liz? When did you get here?” I asked in confusion. Liz followed my voice and stared at me with the same expression. “I just arrived today for the photo shoot. Andie? What are the odds that you would be here? Oh! Hello there,” she replied, noticing Ashley sitting beside me.
Paris smiled when she saw me but her smile evaporated when she noticed Ashley. “Oh um…Liz, this is Ashley West” I introduced, motioning toward Ashley. “Nice to meet you. What a beautiful child you have,” Liz said, sitting down and looking at little A.
“Thank you. She’s asleep right now but she’s normally very lively. Her name is Andrea,” she replied. Paris’s eyes widened and she looked at me before running out the shop. “Paris! Wait!” I yelled after her.
I jumped out of my seat and followed her out the shop. I grabbed Paris’s arm, watching her tears cascade down her face. “Paris, what’s wrong?” I asked, trying to hug her. She pulled away from me and wiped her eyes. “That’s Ashley? Why is her daughter named after you and why are you two in the same shop together?”
“I bumped into her a few minutes ago. I had no idea she was even here! Her ex’s name is Andrew. Andrew. Andrea. I guess it just fit together or sounded nice. Paris, nothing is going on between us” I said, sighing.
Paris stared at me and then glanced back over at the shop. “She loves you. I can tell just by the way she looks at you. She hasn’t gotten over you and…I know you haven’t gotten over her as well,” she said, almost in a whisper.
“No Andie! I don’t wanna hear it! You love her. You’ve never gotten over her. Antony could see it. Your mom could see it. Even Davey could see it. What am I to you?”
“You’re my girlfriend!”
“Bull shit! I forced you into this from the beginning and practically threw myself at you constantly.”
“And I accepted you! I told you I wanted this. From the beginning, it was about the money. But things changed. We had sex and even before that things were changing.”
“Like I told you before Andie, you wanted me. There is a difference between love and lust.”
“I’m with you! Okay, Paris. I loved Ashley but I’m with you.”
“Why are you doing this? Why are you using everything I say against me?”
“Because everything you say is about me! Paris, can’t you see that things are different now. I want to know more about you. That’s why I ask questions. That’s why I went to the runway show. That’s why I’m even here in New York right now. Lately, everything I do is for you.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“I LOVE YOU!”
Paris looked at me in shock and I ran my fingers through my hair. “It’s only been a month and…I’m scared out of mind because I love you so much. I know love at first sight doesn’t exist…but love over time sure does. My feelings for Ashley…they don’t compare to what I feel for you. When I kiss you, I feel like the world has stopped moving and only we exist. But…when I kissed Ashley, all I felt were a pair of lips and the familiar taste of something in my past,” I said softly.
“I guess, I think what I’m saying is…I want to be with you but I’m scared of getting hurt again” I added. Paris pulled me into her arms and I leaned my head on her shoulder. She took my hat off, running her fingers through my hair.
“Don’t be,” she whispered to me. I shook my head and leaned up so that I was standing straight again. “I don’t want to get into this faster than we already have. So, I’m going to leave for a while” I said. Paris opened her mouth to protest but I quickly placed my lips over hers.
She held me tighter and I pulled away from her. “Please don’t follow me”, I whispered before walked down the street. I heard Paris yelling after me but I kept walking toward a taxi. I even heard Liz and Ashley calling out for me as well but this needed to me done.
Ashley needed to continue on with her life with Andrea and eventually, she would move on and find someone new, after all, I couldn’t say I truly loved her back, not after meeting Paris.
Paris would return to Los Angeles with Liz and hopefully, clear her head as well. I don’t want to rush into things too quick with her if I want this to really work. All she needs to know is that I love her and hopefully this break will only make our relationship stronger.
I’d call Davey later to explain everything to him but right now, only one person could help me, and I had to find him. I needed to speak to my father.