Begin Again

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Thirteen: Ugly Duckling

“Uh... You good?” I ask Violet hesitantly. Never have I been good with consoling people, women especially.

I’ve heard that sometimes a woman needs comfort but why is the real mystery to me. Why do women just burst into tears randomly? Why do they need constant reassurance when you’ve done nothing wrong? Women are the most confusing creatures on this Earth and I will go to my deathbed not understanding them.

When Violet looks up from her hands, her makeup is smeared. I’m not sure if it’s the liner or the lash coloring stuff, but she looks like she stepped out of a Taylor Swift music video, “I’m fine... I just... I needed a minute.”

“Vi, I’m sorry about Mila. She’s really straight forward with things and... she loved Jade very much,” I tell her, hoping she will understand where Mila is coming from. She’s just a kid so she doesn’t completely understand the concept of losing someone and the emotional toll it takes.

“No, she’s sweet... I just struggle sometimes with everything around me,” Violet forces a smile but it’s clearly that. Forced.

I’m relieved that Violet seems to understand why Mila is so forceful, I don’t go too far into detail but that’s another thing I like about Violet, she’s okay with a simple explanation. Mila is a kid, though. No one can fault her for expressing herself without a filter.

“How about you meet everyone formally another time? I’ll probably be heading back to North Carolina in a few months and we can start from scratch there,” I suggest. It’s the best I have to offer at the time and I can’t see why she would have any reason to object.

As expected, Violet nods her head in agreement, “Okay... That sounds nice. I am flattered, though.”

As she wipes her tear stained cheeks, I raise an eyebrow, “Flattered?”

“That you’re looking so far ahead and I’m still there,” She explains.

My brows furrow and my instant response is, “Why wouldn’t you be?”

“Everything is so new, Thomas... I just don’t want to jinx anything.”

I chuckle and sit next to her, tilting her chin upwards in my direction, “Jinxing is a load of shit... I don’t believe in superstitions. If you focus on the present, nothing else really matters.”

Before she can respond, I press my lips to her and kiss her slowly, reassuring her that she and I have a connection, something that we are easily reminded of when we kiss. The chemistry is there and we seem to be hitting it off, so there’s nothing in my mind that believes she won’t be in my life a few months from now.

***

I go into work late. Between my dad, Mila and Allison showing up, then having a really amazing makeout session with Violet, I fell behind at home and managed to get to the office by lunch time. I’m rarely late like this, but until I met Violet I had invested my every second into work. I have other things to occupy my time now - better things.

As I enter the elevator, I press my floor number and the doors begin to close until a voice calls out for me to hold it. I stop the door with my foot and once they bounce back I see Ella running towards me.

She stops in her tracks, suddenly becoming distant, “I’ll just get the next one.”

“Oh, come on. Be professional,” I snap, annoyed with her childish behavior in my workplace. I’m her boss, she should be smarter than living with her head back in high school.

I can tell that she’s reluctant, but she steps into the elevator and stays silent as the doors close. It’s terrible of me, but I have about thirty five seconds to annoy the crap out of her without her being able to walk away and hide.

“If we’re being honest, you were fat in high school,” I begin, her head snapping in my direction but I continue before she can respond, “But that just makes the glow up even better, don’t you think?”

“Glow up?” She repeats me questioningly.

“That’s what girls call it, right? When you go from ugly duckling to beautiful swan.”

“Swan? What...” She shakes her head in disbelief, “Just don’t talk to me.”

I ignore her request, looking at the floor numbers light up on the screen, “I’m complimenting you. You’re welcome... I would definitely consider tapping that if I weren’t in a relationship.”

“You’re--”

The doors open and I wink at her, “Get to work, Ms. Bateau.”

I’m an asshole, I haven’t played with fire like that in a long time and I’m realizing why I enjoyed it so much. Not being a bully, but pushing buttons. Especially pushing a girl’s buttons. They get so feisty within seconds, it’s amusing.

As I walk toward my office, I lift a hand in a waving gesture to Mason as I pass his office. Once in my doorway, I see Jenna sitting at my desk which causes me to roll my eyes, “Oh fuck. What do you want?”

She stands up, resting her palms on the surface of my desk, “Just to talk without you shutting me out.”

“I’ll talk to you,” I respond to her.

“Really?”

I nod my head and walk around my desk, nudging her out of my way so I can sit in my seat, “Yes. As long as it isn’t about Violet.”

Jenna sighs in defeat, walking around the opposite side of my desk and sitting in the chair in front of me, “Thomas, hear me out...”

“No.”

“If you have so much faith in this girl, you won’t have an issue defending her against my suspicions,” She adds, causing me to fall silent and giving Jenna the opportunity to speak further, “You know I don’t trust her, but I know you care for her... I get that and I respect it.”

“Obviously you don’t or else you wouldn’t be in front of me running your mouth,” I roll my eyes, “Get the fuck out, Jenna. I’m not listening to you talk shit about my girlfriend.”

Her jaw drops as she moves forward to interrogate me further, “Your girlfriend? Thomas are you--”

“Violet is my girlfriend and I owe you no explanation,” I begin to look through papers on my desk and once Jenna begins to talk more, getting ready to give me her best pitch on why Violet is so wrong for me, I dial Mason’s extension.

When he answers, he sounds in a pretty good mood, “Hey, Tomm--”

“Get your fiancee out of my office before I pull her out by her hair,” I warn him. I would never actually grab Jenna by the hair, I only ever did that when we had sex, but this wasn’t sex and I wasn’t being kinky with her.

There’s a clicking sound as Mason hangs up and a minute later he’s in my doorway, look at Jenna who has her arms folded like a child, “Jenna, babe, we talked about this... You gotta let Tommy make his own decisions.”

She looks over her shoulder at him, her expression seeming annoyed that Mason isn’t defending her, “He should make his own decisions, but he should also have all of the facts before he jumps into a relationship with somebody.”

“Mason,” I warn him again.

“Jen,” He walks over to Jenna and tugs at her hand gently in a very Mason-like way, “Come on. Please...”

She surprises me by standing up but in a typical Jenna fashion, she isn’t done. When she looks at me again, she continues her lecture on Violet, “For someone who loves her cousin so much, she doesn’t have any evidence of it... Have you seen photos, Thomas? Think about it... She doesn’t even have Jade as a friend on social media.”

“Get out!”

My voice is loud, anger and annoyance controlling me but even when Mason gets Jenna out of my office her words are stuck with me. I try to brush it off because I don’t need Jenna dictating my relationship and my decisions.

Why wouldn’t Violet connect with Jade on social media? I remember her telling me that they has grown apart, but for most of my life I despised my father and I still connected with him when I wasn’t in town.

I log onto my social media accounts, starting with Facebook. As I search Violet’s name, I see that she recently updated her photo. An adorable photo of her looking into the camera as she sips her coffee.

I’m almost ready to like her photo but I stop myself. I don’t want to seem too clingy, I’m not that type.

Under her list of friends, I see that we have no mutual. I know for certain that I have Jade’s account as a friend, but just to be sure I begin to type. J... A... D.... E.

Nothing comes up under the name Jade, so then I try Cooper. Nothing. Not only does Violet not have Jade as a friend, she has not one single person with the last name Cooper and it’s the first time that something doesn’t add up to me.

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