Blissful Aftermath [ROMANCE]

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Twelve

November 18th 2018

“So, are you going to tell me what’s really going on?”

“I don’t what you’re talking about.” She replied coyly and poured a glass of wine for both of them, careful not to meet his eyes. Since they would be taking the subway and then walking the short distance to Joe’s diner instead of driving as they planned on drinking tonight, neither of them had to worry about being the designated driver.

Darius chuckled and leaned forward on the counter, studying her. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you’ve been trying to get someone to go with you to Joe’s diner opening all week.” He smirked at the look of bewilderment on her face as she finally glanced up at him, surprised that he had figured it all out since she had thought she had been pretty sneaky about it. “Scared, are you?”

“You noticed that, huh?”

He chucked and nodded, helping himself to some peanuts which she had left out.

“Has this got something to do with your new boy toy Joe?”

“He’s not my boy toy.” Audrey huffed and rolled her eyes. Even if he was, she would never refer to him as a boy as the man was far from it, and had proven it to her on many occasions.

“Oh.” He grinned. “Is that because he’s so much more than that?”

“We’re just sleeping together, that’s it.” She replied coolly and sipped at her wine in hopes that he would stop asking questions which she wouldn’t be able to answer without incriminating herself.

But if only it were that simple.

“So, are you two dating or what?” Darius continued; his lips curled up in a large, probing smile as he continued to fish for information about her latest romantic interest.

“No, not really. We’re not dating but we kind of are.” She shook her head and then sighed. “It’s complicated.”

“It sounds complicated.” He whistled lowly. “You want to talk about it? It could help you figure some things out.”

Her first instinct was to say no, but she had no one to talk about Joe with since she had decided to keep whatever they had going on between them secret. Perhaps, a second opinion couldn’t hurt.

Audrey chewed on her lip as she mulled over the thought for another moment; conflicted.

“We’re kind of just sleeping together.”

“You’re friends with benefits with him?” He asked, surprised.

She nodded, a sly grin slipping onto her face.

When she confirmed it, a slow grin started on Darius’ face which quickly turned into full blown laughter.

“I never took you to be so naughty.” He chuckled as he calmed down, holding onto his stomach as a few more laughs escaped. “I’m definitely not judging you, but you’ve always been so prim and proper about thing. Even when you have one-night stands, they’re always few and far in between. Not to mention you leave in the morning before they even wake up.”

Audrey rolled her eyes but couldn’t keep the grin off her face as it sounded funny coming from his mouth. “He’s difficult to resist. What can I say?”

“I don’t blame you.” He chuckled. “You’ve shown me pictures of him. If he showed me even a little bit of interest in me, I would find that difficult to resist too.”

“He is kind of dreamy, isn’t he?”

“That’s putting it lightly. He’s absolutely scrumptious looking.” Darius snorted. “Are you two exclusive?”

Audrey still and stared at him, a frown creeping onto her face. “We haven’t talked about that.”

“Ah, shit. Sorry!” He was quick to apologise. “I didn’t mean to put that thought in your head.”

Audrey nodded as she knew that he genuinely hadn’t meant but now that she had heard it, she couldn’t help but wonder. “Do you think he’s seeing other women?”

“I can’t say because I’ve never met him.” Darius cleared his throat, feeling bad for prying when this was clearly a sensitive topic for her. When he noticed the strange look on her face, he was quick to amend his earlier statement, not wanting her to think so much into things when her and Joe were only sleeping together. “But from what you’ve told me about him, he doesn’t sound like the kind of guy that would go for an open relationship.”

Audrey gulped as she glanced down at the counter. “He was the one who suggested that we become friends with benefits.”

“I’m sure we’re reading too much into things.” Darius leaned over and placed his hands over hers, giving it a reassuring, comforting squeeze. “I’m sorry I brought it up.”

“No,” she shook her head. “You don’t need to apologise. You haven’t done anything wrong.”

“We don’t have to go tonight if you don’t want to.” He suggested, hoping she would take him up on the offer as her mood seemed to have significantly dropped.

She shook her head frantically. “I told him would. I don’t want to flake on him like this, especially when he hasn’t even done anything wrong.”

“But you’re upset.” He frowned. “We could stay in, order pizza and have a movie marathon instead.” He suggested with a large smile, hoping she would take him up on the offer if it meant that she felt better.

Darius felt guilty for complicating their relationship further by putting that thought in her mind. It seemed she was happier and more content with whatever agreement she had going on with Joe before he had opened his mouth and maybe even ruined it for them both.

He sincerely hoped he hadn’t.

“As tempting as that sounds, I want to be there to support him on his opening night, you know?” She sighed.

“Yeah, I do know.” He nodded and smiled softly. “Men, huh?”

Audrey giggled and gulped down some of her wine. “Joe’s a great guy, though.” She sighed airily, unaware that she had just done that.

“He does sound great from the way you talk about him.” He commented quietly, his eyes watching her every move.

When she spoke about him, a subconscious smile would play on her lips, her eyes would light up and there would be this beautiful glow about her that Darius recognised to only resonate from a person in love, though he dared not mention this to her in fear that it would freak her out even more. As if he hadn’t done enough of that already, and the night hadn’t even started yet.

“What’s holding you back?” He asked suddenly, a knowing look in his eyes as he studied her.

“What do you mean?” She glanced up at him, blinking to break out of the daze she was previously in, her words laced with question.

“You sound absolutely smitten with the guy, so why are you only sleeping with him? Why aren’t you pursuing an actual relationship with him? It sounds like you want to.”

“It’s so much more complicated than that.” Audrey sighed.

“Babe, my relationship with my married boyfriend and his conniving, hopefully soon to be ex-wife is complicated. I doubt you can beat that.” He chuckled; the mirth clear in his voice even though they both knew his complicated dating life really bothered him. “Humour me.”

Audrey sighed and glanced down at the funny reflection of herself in the wine glass, gently tapping her fingers around the base of it as her shoulders slouched forward, mentally preparing herself to pour her heart out.

She had already skirted around the topic of her past life whenever she was asked about and after the first few times, her friends had understood that it was a sensitive topic, opting to wait until she was ready to open up to them about it.

While all of her friends weren’t currently present, she was glad that Darius was the one here tonight. Out of the whole group, she believed that she was closest with both Sabrina and Darius, though she loved all of her friends equally. Without knowing it, they had all been there for her when she truly needed someone on her side.

Audrey had always felt it unfair that she was keeping such a big part of herself a secret from them, so maybe it was time for all of that to change.

“When I first met Joe, I was married.” She finally admitted after spending a few moments in silence to muster up the courage to force the words out of her mouth before she bottled up everything again. Once she had, she carefully watched him to gauge his reaction.

“What? You were married?” He asked with nothing but surprise and shock evident on his face. No judgement.

“For about three years.” She nodded, almost as if confirming it to herself. “The marriage started out great for about the first six months or so, then everything went downhill from there.”

“What happened?” He asked, his expression cautious in case he was overstepping the boundary by being too nosy.

“We had fertility issues and I guess it took it toll on the relationship.” Audrey stated simply, not wanting to go into too much detail of how they were unable to conceive a child. Calvin had forced her to take the blame of it all on her shoulders instead of taking fertility tests as soon as they suspected that something could be wrong and as a result, she quickly found herself stuck in a loveless marriage which at first, she hadn’t even acknowledged she was in.

It was only when she was ready to leave him that she recognised their relationship to have ended so much earlier and that they had become two strangers just living in the same house and tied together by a piece of paper.

“I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for you.” Darius reached out and placed his hand over hers, a sad look in his eyes. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

“No, I want to.” She assured him with a quiet sigh. “Other than family and Joe, I haven’t spoken about what happened to anyone. I’ve been meaning to talk to you guys for a while now, but I was struggling to come to terms with it myself and I didn’t want any of you to look at me differently.”

“We would never look at you differently.” He promised, a determined look on his face. “You’re such a strong woman to have gone through all of that.”

“Well, I didn’t always feel so strong.” She chuckled, the sound of it sad and quiet; pathetic. “Almost as soon as we started having fertility issues, my ex started cheating. He kept it quiet at first and I didn’t know about it, but very quickly he just gave up and didn’t even bother hiding it from me anymore.”

“That’s so disgusting.” Darius snarled.

Audrey nodded and sighed. “There’s a bunch of stuff that happened after that, but I still didn’t leave him.” She groaned at the memory and closed her eyes, not wanting to cry in front of him. She knew for a fact that after everything he had just learnt, Darius viewed her as weak and pathetic, because that’s the way she viewed herself.

Crying in front of him would just prove how right he was.

“It’s okay to cry.”

“He doesn’t deserve my tears.” She opened her eyes and blinked the tears away, swiping her thumbs under her eyes to get rid of the few that had managed to get through. “I spent the whole month after the divorce crying over him. I don’t want to cry over him anymore.”

“You’re right, he doesn’t deserve your tears.” Darius shook his head softly, his tone soothing and gentle for her benefit.

Audrey allowed herself a moment to compose herself and clear her mind before she continued.

“I met Joe towards the end my marriage but nothing really came of it since I refused to cheat, even if that’s all that my ex-husband did.” She rolled her eyes at the memory. “He did express how he felt about me then, but I had shut it down because I was still married.”

“He moved down here for you?”

“It’s just a coincidence that his sister lives here.” She shrugged, hoping to appear nonchalant, but couldn’t keep the small smile off her face.

“How does Joe feel about you now?”

“What do you mean?” She glanced up at him, the confusion clear in her eyes.

“Does Joe still feel the same way about you?”

“I think so.”

“Then what’s holding you back?” He repeated his earlier question, sending her a pointed look when she continued to stare at him.

“I guess I’m just scared.”

“Of course, you’re scared, babe.” He sighed and walked around the counter to wrap his arms around her and pull her into a hug. “You’re so strong for going through so much and no person would be able to come out of what you’ve been through without some sort of emotional trauma. But you need to remember that Joe isn’t your ex-husband.”

“You’re right. He’s so much better.” She whispered into his chest, forcing her eyes closed so she wouldn’t start crying again.

“You should give him a chance. It sounds like he really, really likes you.”

“I know.” She sighed. “I guess I have some thinking to do.”

He gave her one last squeeze before placing a kiss against her forehead.

“Come on, we should get going before we’re late.”

-

Please do like and comment :) The next chapter will be up on Wednesday!

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Layla Knight

05.07.2020

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