23. You can just leave...
I blame Joel. When he walked out on me, I fell apart. It was easier to spit out what was expected to get a guy, and even easier to send them packing once I’d gotten what I wanted.
Then there’s Mason. The one man who seems to see right through my act. Last night he did what I wanted him to do, but he also pulled away. That speaks volumes about his character and the type of man he was brought up to be. He’s good. An all round gentleman. I know he only wants what’s best for me and that scares me. He’s so intense. Kind. Caring. Too invested? Maybe? And maybe I’m not cut out for it. Maybe I’m not the right woman for him.
That’s why I’m leaving.
“Morning.” he greets me with a soft edge to his voice.
He circles the counter, eyes set on the fridge. I watch as he fishes out the milk and a box of eggs. Picking at the half slice of toast that’s left on my plate, I try and think of what to say.
Another glance my way, “Did you sleep okay?”
I barely slept. Stuck between Rowan’s foot and James’ elbow as it dug into my rib. That and the endless train of thoughts about Mason barreling through my head made for a restless night.
“Me neither,” a pause, “The twins at school?”
“Yeah, I had Ava take them in.”
“I have some things to sort out.”
“Like a place to live. Darcy, my friend from work, is going to move in with the twins and me.”
He turns to face me then, eyes falling to the screen of the tablet that lies on the counter. It shows a two-bed flat for rent not far from the twin’s school. Already furnished and ready for a family to move in.
“It allows pets,” he points out, not giving away anything in his facial expressions. His face is like stone, much similar to how it was last night.
I nod my head as casually as I can, “The hamster can come with us.”
“That’s good,” he releases a sombre sigh and turns back to his omelette mixture.
“I’m really grateful for all you’ve done for me, Mason.” I switch off the tablet’s screen. It did what I wanted it to do and I already hate myself for it.
I watch as he concentrates on cooking. The way his eyes jump from the frying pan to the spatula and back again. He’s careful and precise in everything he does. Including attempting to hide his true feelings, but a tight jaw and a few heavy breaths give him away.
Once I finish my toast, I stand up.
“You can just leave...” he stops, looks back at me over his shoulder and down at the plate in my hand, ”leave the plate there. I can sort it. I’m sure you have somewhere to be.”
My shoulders sink, “Mason?”
“I didn’t expect something like this from you. Turning you away last night was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I did it because of what you said,” I raise an eyebrow, “You mentioned being in unhealthy relationships in the past and I don’t want ours to become one. If you have to move out, move out for your twins, hell, move out because you want to. Don’t do it to punish me for saying no.”
And there it is.
“You’re doing it to hurt me. I know you are.”
He’s caught me red-handed.
He continues, “You’re being childish. You want a way out of something that’s going really well. Are you scared?”
“You- You have this all wrong...” It’s a lie and I feel so dirty telling it.
“I don’t,” he sighs, “The least you can do is tell me truthfully how you feel. Veronica, I’ve never met a woman like you. One who could have the whole world if she asked me for it. I’d jump as high as I could for you, but you’ve pissed me off! You’re so painfully unaware of how much of a wonderful person you are. You’re scared of living. Scared of being outside of your comfort zone. But you know that I’d do anything for you and that’s why you’re choosing to leave, because you know I won’t stop you. I’d fight like hell for you, but I would never force you to stay here if you’re unhappy.”
I’m at a loss for words.
“Don’t tell me something you think I’m going to want to hear. I don’t think I could take it. I have to go, I’m running late for work.”
Without so much as a glance my way, he walks towards his bedroom, without so much as turning the hob off. I approach it, switching it to off, place my plate in the sink and take a deep breath.
I am so close to walking away without fighting it, but I can’t. I don’t have it in me to let him have the last word. Instead, I follow him, reaching his bedroom door a moment later.
“Mason, I can’t stay here forever! We knew that when I moved in, and with this whole custody battle over the twins, I need my own place. I need to be able to tell the judge that they have a secure home-”
I push his door open, pausing when I see him. He’s sat on the edge of his bed, his head in his hands. Defeated.
See, I knew I was trouble.
He lifts his head to look at me, “If that’s the reason you’re moving out, that’s fine.”
“You don’t believe me, do you?”
“When you’re lying you can’t seem to look me in the eye.”
“I’m looking at you now, aren’t I?”
I am, even if I want to do anything but.
He looks completely disgusted in me.
“Fine. I take it you’ll need my help moving out?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What do you think it means? Veronica, you’ve used me.”
I frown, “I have not!”
“Eyes are up here,” he stands up, stretching his arms above his head. Meanwhile the muscles of his bare torso contract. I drag my eyes to his once more, “You suddenly don’t want anything to do with me unless I’m like the other men you’ve dated. All after seeing that man from last night again.”
He’s scolding me, and it makes me feel so small.
Maybe that’s why he’s doing it?
Fucking hell. Snap out of it Veronica!
Mason isn’t the type of man to belittle somebody. He’s sweet and honest and he wouldn’t say something to be mean.
“That’s fair,” I mutter.
“Could you close the door on your way out?” He gestures to the doorway I’m stood in.
“I- Is this it? Are you done fighting for me?”
“If it was up to me, I’d never stop, but I don’t think you want me to fight for you.” his impassiveness is disheartening.
Is this a break up?
I’m not even sure if we were ever considered dating.
“I’m so sorry, Mason. I do this. I fuck things up.”
“Let’s not blame anybody. Veronica,” he pauses, shakes his head and allows his shoulders to slouch forward. “I really have to get to work.”
“What about your omelette?”
What about us? It’s what I want to scream, but I don’t.
I step back taking his shrug as a silent reply to my question. Shutting his door softly is difficult. I want to slam it. To show him how fucking angry I am at his willingness to let me leave, but I can’t. I don’t have the right to do such a thing. I’m the reason I’m leaving. No one else.
I quickly rush to my bedroom to gather my phone, a coat and my purse before leaving his place without so much as calling out a goodbye.
“I can’t believe that asshole came back! If Elias was there he would have beaten the shit out of him,”
Darcy talks to me over her shoulder as she crouches down near the oak counters of the kitchen in our new place.
We met over an hour ago and have been looking around the flat since then. I like the place and by the looks of it, so does she.
“I’m lucky Liam showed up when he did,” I respond, walking around the island to join her. “What exactly are you looking for?”
“Anything that shouldn’t be here. My dad’s a builder. He does this for a living. I mentioned that I was checking out a new place and he told me what to look for,” she fishes through her jean pocket to produce an A5 piece of ruled paper and places it on the counter above her head.
All written in block, blue italics.
I frown, “So why are you in the cupboard?”
“Checking storage. If the two of us are bringing what we own, we need to make sure there’s space for us.”
“Is there?” I peek over her shoulder to stare into the empty cupboard.
“Unless you own seven frying pans, I say we’ll be alright.” she stands up.
“Veronica, you don’t seem too happy about moving in with me,” she smiles briefly, “Honey, is it because you were attacked?”
I shake my head, “I haven’t even thought about the attack if I’m honest. It scared me, sure, but I’m fine and that’s what matters. No, it’s Mason. We had an argument.”
It doesn’t take long for me to tell her the entire story. It’s not exactly a long one. I was stupid and I may have fucked up the best thing that has happened to me since having the twins.
Darcy lifts herself up onto the counter, her legs swinging over the edge, “Do you still like Liam?”
“Then I have a question. Why do you keep doing this to yourself? Mason seems like a great man and you’ve pushed him away!”
“He isn’t perfect, Darcy. He has an ex who-”
She interrupts me, “Excuses. If a guy lets you bring your kids to live at his house, he’s in it for the long run! I don’t know, but he sounds pretty damn perfect to me.”
I know she’s right. Mason has done nothing but treat me nice over these past three months. He’s been great with the twins too, and Darcy’s right when she says he’s perfect. He is. I don’t know why I keep making up excuses.
“I need to apologise, don’t I?”
She nods in response.
“Should I do it now?”
“The sooner the better, babe.”
I walk towards the red-double doors of the fire-house around half an hour later, my tail surely between my legs. I’m not sure what I’m going to say to Mason when I see him. All I know is that I want to see him. I’m desperate to say sorry. Darcy made me see the error of my ways as she always seems to do.
I’ve realised that Mason is worth it all. He has to be, because my heart really wants things to work out between us.
The lower level of the fire-station is empty apart from one guy who’s reeling in a large, tan hose. I call out to him.
When he turns to face me, I realise that we’ve met already.
“Murray, right?” I greet him, “I’m looking for Mason, is he around?”
He smiles softly, “Hi! Nice to see you again. He is somewhere, let me go have a look.”
I nod and watch him start ascending the stairs to my left. I’m alone until I hear the hurried conversation of a man and a woman who are approaching me from the other side of the giant fire-engine that dominates the lower level.
“I’ve told you, I can’t!” A voice I recognise.
“I know, but baby, I need you. I’m not coping!” A pause and then a name which chills me to the bone. “Mason, you can’t just shut me out. We’ve been through too much together.”
I tuck my petite frame behind the front of the engine and pray that the two of them don’t walk any further.
“It’s not that simple anymore. There’s someone else. I've already told you that. You can't keep coming to my work!"
“The woman who’s made you look like this? You look completely fed up!”
It takes all of my will power not to rush forward and teach a bitch a lesson. Who does she think she is talking about me like that?
“Han, please. You should leave.”
“Mason, mate! Your girlfriend is here.”
Another voice calls out.
And just like that my cover is blown. Murray stands at the top of the stairs, his eyes shifting from me to the other two. He’s as confused as I am in all honesty. Why is this woman visiting him at work still? They broke up a long time ago!
I step forward and greet the two of them with an awkward wave.
So this is what I’ve been reduced to? What the hell has this man done to me?
“Hey.” I say softly.
“Veronica, what are you doing here?”
I can feel her green eyes burning into me from here but ignore her desperate need to be acknowledged.
“I came to talk to you, but I was beaten to it by the looks of things. No worries, I can wait."
Mason steps forward, much to her disapproval, “No! I want to talk to you too.”
I don’t want to run away from him, no matter how scared I am. I want to see where we can go.
So, I smile.
“Good. That’s good.” I step towards him.
“Let me just show Han out.”
Her face drops and she starts to follow him out of the building, be it reluctantly.
If it would be deemed socially acceptable, I would totally fist bump the air.
I am SO SORRY that this has taken so long to be uploaded. With everything that has been happening in the world right now, I've been struggling quite a bit with my health anxiety and trying to find a home to settle into as I usually travel between mine and my boyfriend's place. We've settled into a routine now so I should be able to stick to a better upload schedule! Though, I do have assignments coming up and my Master's dissertation to write! So, bear with me. x
I hope you're all staying indoors, staying safe and washing those hands.