Blissful Aftermath [ROMANCE]

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Fourteen

November 23rd 2018

Nothing was right. Everything was going wrong and there wasn’t much that she could do about it.

It started off this morning when she woke up to an empty bed even though she had fallen asleep besides Joe the previous night. With nothing but a brief text to explain his sudden disappearance, she had headed into the shower, starting off the day in a foul mood.

Sorry, I wasn’t there when you woke up

Something came up

I’ll make it up to you tonight, pretty lady

After that, she had cut herself when shaving. Albeit small, the nick on her thigh stung painfully and she was quick to blot it with some loo roll before she got blood all over her tiles. Since she had been running late, she quickly got dressed and grabbed a small, single carton of almond milk to sip on while on the subway however, after popping in the straw and taking a drink of it before she even made it out of the door, she felt her stomach heave and Audrey dropped her bag before rushing back into the bathroom.

She had barely been able to make it to the toilet bowel before she emptied out her stomach contents which consisted of a turkey sandwich from Joe’s diner last night and a single sip of almond milk this morning. Her stomach ached and tears sprang to her eyes as she started to throw up water.

Once Audrey was certain that she was no longer a ticking time bomb just waiting to throw up on everyone and everything she passed, she somehow found the strength to lift herself off the ground and brush her teeth.

After a few quick touch-ups of her makeup, she threw the bad milk in the milk and rushed out the door for the second time that morning, all the while making a mental note to throw out the rest of the milk cartons when she got home.

The rest of the morning, her stomach continued to feel queasy and even at one point, she had rushed to the bathroom in fear of throwing up again but thankfully, it had been nothing more than a false alarm. Not wanting to upset her stomach any more than she already had done with the bad milk, – once again, she berated herself for not checking the sell by date on the carton before taking a large gulp – she ate some dry biscuits for breakfast and washed them down with water.

Thankfully, no more trips to the bathroom were required and she was able to continue with the rest of her morning as normal however, the same could not be said when lunch rolled around. She had joined her friends in the canteen but when her phone started ringing, she decided to cut it short and return to her desk, not that she was in a very talkative mood.

When she picked up the call, her brother Isaac greeted her cheerfully however, things had taken a turn for the worse when he brought up their Christmas plans again. Isaac and Audrey argued – quietly as she was at work and didn’t wish for anyone to overhear and think of her as unprofessional – for about 15 minutes before she huffed and abruptly ended the call. He had tried calling her afterwards but she had put her phone on silent and slipped it into her purse, no longer in the mood to argue with him.

It was a bitch move but, in that moment, she couldn’t bring herself to care.

It also didn’t help that as soon as she had hung up the phone, Lucas happened to be passing by and chose that exact moment to take a seat on the corner of her desk, a large smile on her face.

“Why’d you run off at lunch?” He asked with a small, curious smile.

“My brother called.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you had a brother.”

“Yeah.” She forced a smile. “He’s older than me, in case you were wondering.”

Lucas chuckled lightly and leaned in towards her. “What else are you hiding from me?” While his question was simple and seemingly innocent, Audrey felt herself begin to sweat under his gaze.

“A lot of things.” She whispered quietly under her breath but was quick to shake her head when he asked her about it.

Lucas laughed awkwardly before running a hand down his shirt to straighten it; a nervous habit.

“I was hoping to ask you about something.” He chuckled nervously; the sound almost painful to her ears. “I’ve actually been meaning to ask you this for a while now.”

“Look, Lucas.” She sighed and brushed a hand through her hair, trying to reign in her frustration as she didn’t want to take it all out on him, especially since he had absolutely nothing to do with her bad day. In fact, he was probably trying to make it better and while she was appreciative, his presence was just annoying her. “Now’s not a good time.”

Unaware to her inner thoughts and feelings, Lucas paused and watched her as his nerves ate away at him.

“It won’t take long.” Lucas insisted quietly but sadly, that didn’t make things better.

“Lucas, can we please talk later?”

“Right, I’m sorry.” He chuckled; the sound very strained. “I’ll speak to you some other time.”

Audrey watched as he slipped off her desk and turned around, walking away from her. His shoulders were slumped dejectedly, almost as if she had rejected him and, in a way, she had. She felt bad for not listening to him, but she just wasn’t in the mood. When she had calmed down and found a second to think clearly, she knew she would feel guilty with the way she had spoken to him, even if it wasn’t all that harsh but for now, Audrey huffed and got back to work.

When the work day finally came to a close and she had finished for the day, Audrey couldn’t be any more relieved. As soon as the short hand on the clock hit 5, she was all packed up and ready to leave, even though she rarely ever left the office before 6.

But today was just a bad day and she was thankful that it had come to an end.

Coming to a stop in front of the elevators, she pressed the button and waited for it to arrive on her floor. When her phone chimed, she reached into her pocket to retrieve it and glanced down at the messages she had just received.

I hope you had a great day

I’ll swing by your place around 7

I’ll bring dinner

Just as the elevator doors opened and she had finished reading the text, Audrey turned around with a smile on her face, the exact opposite of the mood that she had been stuck in all day.

Just one text from Joe and her whole mood had turned upside down but before she could head home to take a relaxing bath to pass the time until he finished up at work, she had a certain friend she needed to apologise to.

As she approached him, Lucas was busy on his desktop computer, probably coding. Since he was his air pods in instead of his headset, she assumed that he was listening to music and not on an important business call.

Lucas hadn’t heard her coming so she tapped on his desk to grab his attention. When he paused his music and looked up at her in surprise, she beamed largely at him with an apologetic look on her face, genuinely sorry for the way she had behaved with him earlier.

“I’m sorry for snapping at you earlier.” Audrey apologised, a sheepish look on her face. “I was in a bad mood and you didn’t deserve it. I shouldn’t have snapped at you, I’m sorry.”

Lucas nodded and smiled softly at her, no trace of animosity or anger on his face, almost as if it had all just melted away the moment that she had approached him.

“It’s okay, I should have realised that it wasn’t the best time to talk.” He smiled softly at her.

“No.” She shook her head frantically, needing him to know that this was a one-off and that she wouldn’t be making a habit out of it. “None of this is your fault. I’m so sorry for being mean to you earlier.”

“Don’t worry.” He smiled, this one actually reaching his eyes.

“So, what did you want to talk about before?”

“Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal. Just something stupid.” Lucas shrugged, his smile dipping lower just a little as it grew nervous.

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” He chuckled, silently willing for her to drop it. “I don’t even remember what I wanted to tell you.”

“Okay, but if you remember, let me know.” She smiled softly and gave his shoulder a friendly squeeze.

“Will do.”

“And coffee is on me tomorrow.” When he looked like he wanted to argue, she grinned and took a step back. “Don’t fight me on this one.”

Lucas chuckled and bid her good day before she turned around to head into the open elevator doors.

On her way home, Audrey felt much better, almost as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders which was strange since she couldn’t explain why she had started off the day on the wrong foot.

And to think it all started from the moment she woke up and realised that her lover – or friend; she wasn’t quite sure how to address him – was nowhere to be found.

When she reached her apartment door and lifted her hand to insert her key into the lock, she pushed it open and stepped in.

Her nose tingled as the beautiful and distinct scent of succulent grilled chicken wafted through the air. With being sick this morning, she had nibbled at lunch not wanting to upset her stomach further but now, she was feeling much better hence, her appetite had returned.

“I thought you weren’t going to get here until 7.” She noted aloud as she spotted him working hard in the kitchen.

Joe shrugged and bent down to pull out the tray from the oven. “I wanted to surprise you.”

“That’s so sweet.” She smiled at him and placed her purse down on the sofa and slipped off her heels.

“Is that grilled chicken I smell?”

“Yes. There’s also plenty of potatoes and green beans to go with it, so I hope you’re hungry.”

“Starving.” Audrey all but moaned as she headed over to the kitchen. She sat down on one of the barstools while he plated dinner for the both of them. When he sat down next to her and handed her some cutlery, they both got stuck in.

Since she was so hungry, Audrey scarfed down her dinner in record time, not leaving much space or time for talking. Joe found it funny and laughed between mouthfuls. She poured a glass of wine for the both of them and helped him dry the dishes while he washed them. Once they were done, they cuddled up on the sofa and put on the latest episode of Riverdale on the TV.

“How was your day, pretty lady?” He rested his arm on the back of the couch and smiled down at her when she snuggled into his side, closing her eyes briefly.

“Not good. I’ve kind of been on rampage all day.” She sighed as she thought over the many things that had gone wrong today. Looking back now, it was pretty comical but, in the moment, she felt like she was going crazy.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” He hummed and rubbed a soothing hand down her back, encouraging her to continue.

“You’ve already done plenty.”

Joe quirked a questioning eyebrow at that, amusement swirling around in his eyes.

She shook her head and just snuggled further into his side, refusing to answer his question. It was too embarrassing to admit that a simple text from him had changed her whole mood and brightened her otherwise gloomy day.

“Well, I’m glad that you’re feeling better.” He hummed quietly and swooped down to place a kiss on her forehead. “I actually wanted to speak to you about something.”

“What is it?”

“My sister is throwing a Christmas Eve party and she really wants you to be there.” He had more to say, but she was quick to cut him off.

“Wait, you told your sister about us?” The question rushed out of her mouth as she pulled away from him slightly to glance up with wide, unbelieving eyes.

“Yes.” He replied hesitantly, almost as if he was unsure of his answer. “Was I not supposed to have?”

“No.” She shook her head and pushed herself up into a sitting position, needing to put some distance between them. “We’re just fuck buddies. That’s not the kind of thing you tell your sister about or invite to family events. Especially not to a Christmas Eve party!”

“We’re more than just fuck buddies.” Joe rolled his eyes before turning his body to face her since he felt an argument brewing under the surface. “I think you’re making a bigger deal out of this than it actually is. It’s just a party. You don’t need to come to it if you don’t want to.”

“Don’t tell me I’m over-reacting.” She shook her head furiously.

Joe’s lips turned down into a small frown, not at all a fan of the direction that this conversation – or rather, argument – was heading. “Don’t put words in my mouth but that kind of is what you’re doing.”

Audrey rolled her eyes. “How would you feel if I told my brother that we’re sleeping together?”

“I wouldn’t mind.” He shrugged, still unable to see what the issue was.

“Don’t you get it? We’re just two friends that are sleeping together. That’s it. We’re not dating and we’re certainly not girlfriend or boyfriend or in a relationship.” She huffed, her voice rising as she felt herself grow angrier. “We haven’t even discussed whether we’re exclusive or not.”

A brief silence filled her apartment as both of them engaged in a staring contest, but he was the first one to break it when he bowed his head and rubbed a hand through his hair.

“Is this your way of telling me that you’re seeing other people?” His eyes blazed with anger but he was quick to rein it in as that would just further aggravate both the situation and her. Joe knew that if he so much as pushed her, even a little, she would shove him back and close the metaphorical door in his face, shutting herself off from him.

“I’m not but that’s the thing. We haven’t ever spoken about things like that!”

“So, let’s talk about it now.” He pressed on the matter further. “We’re friends with benefits but we’re also sleeping with each other exclusively so that means there should be no one else.”

“You’re not getting my point.” Audrey groaned in frustration and a ran a hand through her auburn locks, needing something to distract her.

“Look, it’s not a big deal. Just say you don’t want to come to the party and that’s it.”

“That’s not the point that I’m trying to make!” She threw her hands up in confusion. “You need to stop thinking of this,” she gestured between the two of them. “As something more than sex.”

“If it’s not more than just sex, then why have I spent every night with you since that first day?” When she remained quiet, just watching him, he continued. “Why do we cuddle every night and why do I cook dinner for you? If this was just sex, then we certainly wouldn’t text each other all the time and spend every evening talk about our days to each other. You’re so blind and scared of being hurt that you don’t even see what you’re throwing away. I know you’re scared and I know you’re cautious, but you can’t push me away because you’re scared of getting hurt again. You have to learnt to trust me and you have to let me help you otherwise you’re going to spend the rest of your unhappy and alone.”

When he finished, a pregnant pause enveloped the apartment. His breath was ragged as he stared at her and she stared at him back, her eyes brimming with fire that threatened to overflow and burn him.

“Get out.” She whispered quietly.

“Audrey.” Joe sighed and rubbed a hand down his face. “I’m sorry that I blew up at you like that. Let’s talk about this.”

“I said, get out!”

Not needing to be told for a third time, Joe stood up, grabbed his jacket from the back of the sofa and stormed out of her apartment without looking back, making sure to slam the door behind him for good measure.

Just to make sure that she didn’t change her mind later, she called her brother to apologise and she promised him that she would be spending Christmas with him and his wife.

Her brother had been so happy with the news, so why did she feel so miserable?

-

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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