Blissful Aftermath [ROMANCE]

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Fifteen

November 29th 2018

Once work had ended, she bid Lucas goodbye and rushed out of the building, not really in the mood to force a conversation. Audrey had barely managed to last the whole day without breaking down and now that it was over, she desperately needed to get away. She didn’t want to go back home to her apartment as it was so bare and empty without Joe, especially since she had become rather accustomed and fond of having him around this past month, so instead, she just wondered the streets aimlessly, lost in her thoughts and drowning in her own self-pity.

With her mind so clouded, she had forgot what day today was.

Audrey was still angry at Joe and in her stubborn mind, she had every right to be. Ever since their argument the other day when he stormed out of her apartment – even if she had been the one to scream at him to leave – she hadn’t seen him.

Before she had gone to bed that night, her phone had chimed and when she had glanced at the notification, she saw that it was from Joe.

I’m sorry for the way I left.

Can we talk?

Please, Audrey.

Just talk to me.

Don’t shut me out, please.

Please let me make this right.

When she had first received those messages, she hadn’t been ready to talk so instead of calling him up, she got into bed and put her phone on silent. She had more seen than heard her phone chime with a new message a few more times but she ignored the device even though she barely slept a wink that night.

The next morning, she had gone into work early while feeling like a zombie on the inside; having only managed two hours of sleep throughout the whole night. Her mind kept replaying that moment with Joe when everything had gone wrong. What had started off as an innocent, somewhat enjoyable conversation after a fantastic dinner, had quickly turned sour and she had no one to blame but herself.

Joe had been right to say that she had definitely blown the situation way out of proportion.

Audrey knew that she had been the one to over-react. Just like he had said, she had let her fear drive her and put a wedge between them both and now she feared the gap was too large and unamendable, especially since she had pretty much been ignoring him these past few days.

She had picked up her phone on several occasions that day with the intent of replying to him but every time she did, her mind went blank, her fingers froze and her heart skipped several beats.

What could she possibly say to earn his forgiveness?

The day after that, Audrey received one message from Joe saying that if it was okay, he wanted to stop by her apartment after work. Upon initial panic, she had agreed to spend the evening with a few of her friends as they had previously planned to have some drinks together after work as well as going out to eat, and while she had denied the invitation before, she hastily accepted it now.

When she had finally gotten home it had been very late and she was confident that he would have left by then. Despite it being her intention, Audrey had felt immensely disappointed at having successfully driven him away, even though that had been her plan.

The next day, yesterday, she had spent the whole day akin to a bag of nerves, her feelings and emotions all over the place. So much so that she had thrown up in the morning just like the other day except this time, she hadn’t drunk any spoilt milk.

Audrey hadn’t received a single text from Joe yesterday and every time she checked her phone hoping that she had merely missed the sound of the notification, her disappointment grew in the pit of her stomach which just resulted in her feeling sicker.

Each time she checked, she felt the urge to message him back, to beg for his forgiveness in the hopes that it would open up a conversation between themselves however, she chickened out of it every single time. Her fingers froze whenever she began typing so she would end up deleting the message each time. Whatever she did manage to write didn’t sound like her at all so she ended up deleting those words too.

How was she supposed to express her feelings to him when she couldn’t even admit it to herself?

Joe was a wise man and he was often very vocal with her about whatever played on his mind, not at all consumed with the fear that she would judge him even for his strangest thoughts.

Why couldn’t she be the same way? Why was she so scared?

Audrey knew why, but she hated to admit it.

Today was November 29th 2018, exactly a year since she had left Calvin; the anniversary of their divorce, the end of their marriage and the beginning of her freedom.

But after all this time, why did she feel so trapped?

Audrey hadn’t set eyes on her ex-husband in exactly a year now, so why did he still affect her so much? And why was she so weak that she allowed it to consume her very being and seep into every aspect of her life?

As much as she hated Calvin and how glad she was to have separated herself from him when she did, at times like this, she couldn’t help but remember the simpler times, when their marriage had been so much more meaningful than all the pain and deceit that it had turned into.

Laughs escaped them both as they landed on the grass with him on his back and her on top. Uncaring of the weird looks that the other park-goers were sending them both, he wrapped an arm around her waist and braced his other arm under his head, looking up at the clear sky.

Her fingers played with the collar of his shirt as she grinned down at him, cheekily pressing her mouth to the base of his neck.

“I love you, so much.” He exhaled happily, still staring up at the sky. “I’m happiest only with you in my arms.”

“When did you turn into such a romantic?” She giggled into the exposed skin of his chest through his shirt, unable to hold back the wide grin that threatened to take over her face.

Dragging his eyes away from the sky, his lips stretched into a wide grin as he locked eyes with her, his beloved.

“The day I met you.”

On the anniversary of her divorce, Audrey wanted nothing more than to celebrate her freedom. However, she couldn’t do that if she continued living her life this way. She hadn’t set eyes on that horrid man in a year now, yet she still allowed him to rule over her life and dictate every single decision she made. If it wasn’t for him, perhaps she could actually stand a chance at happiness.

With or without Joe, she wasn’t quite sure.

“Where are you going?” She asked when he walked by the kitchen without so much as glancing in her direction. When he didn’t stop, she stood up and followed him to the front door where he slipped on his shoes.

“Calvin, where are you going?” She repeated herself, a sense of urgency in her voice, desperate to know what was going on.

“I’m going out for breakfast, but I don’t see how that’s any of your concern.” He spat at her while he straightened out his shirt.

“But I’ve already made breakfast. Your favourite.” Her eyes pleaded with him to stay as she spoke.

“I hate your cooking.” He scoffed. “I have someone waiting for me so if you’re done with the incessant questioning, I have to go.”

“Who’s waiting for you?” She asked even though she knew she would hate whatever remark he answered with.

His eyes finally settled on her and his lips twisted up into an evil, disgusted smirk.

“Someone far better, prettier and much more of a woman than you could ever be.”

When the door slammed shut behind him, she stood frozen in her spot, staring a hole into the wood of it. A few moments passed before she inhaled sharply, turned around and headed into the kitchen to clean up the mess she had made while making him his favourite breakfast which had now gone completely to waste.

Audrey shook her head to rid herself of the horrid memory, refusing to allow herself to dwell on the past for any longer. She couldn’t continue to live like this. She was only sabotaging and cheating herself out of the happy life she could enjoy if only she allowed herself.

Almost as if her subconscious mind was determined to end this plight, she found herself standing outside Darcy’s Diner.

The few times that she had been here, she had been nothing but hungry and excited. Hungry for the quality food she knew she was about to feast upon, and excited to see the man that owned the place. A man whose forgiveness she desperately needed to earn.

This time, she was neither of those things. However, like her subconscious mind, she was determined to make a change. She would never achieve happiness continuing living life this way.

She had been the one to instigate the fight, throw around baseless accusations and then throw him out. it was him who was supposed to be angry and her sending him apology text messages, not the other way around.

Joseph Darcy was clearly too good for her.

With her head hung low in humility and shame, her cheeks heated at the uncomfortable conversation she was mentally preparing herself and the fear of rejection and being rebuked clouding her mind, she walked into the diner.

Her eyes scanned around the room and when they landed on him, wiping some glasses behind the counter of the bar, her breath hitched in her throat. When he glanced up and locked eyes with her, his actions stilled and he put down the glass.

It had only been three days since she had last seen him, but it felt nothing short of an eternity.

When Joe walked around the counter, he gestured for her to follow him through the kitchen doors, no doubt intending to give them some privacy to talk things out in his office.

Her eyes remained downcast as she followed him through the kitchen, down the hallway and into his office, just as she had expected.

“Take a seat.” He instructed as he closed the door behind them, referring to his seat behind the desk.

Audrey turned around and briefly met his eyes before she quickly looked away. When he insisted again that she take a seat, she did.

She watched as he perched himself on the corner of his desk and cross his arms over his chest, his eyes watching her closely, almost as if afraid that she would spring up and run away at the first opportunity. She didn’t blame him for feeling that way.

In his position, he was blocking the only way to the door, giving him the perfect opportunity to intervene if she tried anything of the sort.

That both pleased and annoyed her.

“What are you doing here, Audrey?”

“I miss you.” She exhaled, forcing herself to look at him in fear that if she looked away, he would disappear or worse, leave.

When she saw him gulp and struggle with his words, she scarcely allowed herself to hope that he was just as affected by everything as she had been, even if it was all her fault.

Joe sighed and his features softened as he gazed down at her. “I miss you too.” He admitted, his lips turning up into a small smile.

His words of admission were like music to her ears and pushed her to open up to him more.

Audrey took in a big breath of air and exhaled loudly, preparing herself to open up and make herself vulnerable in a way that she had only been with Calvin before. She was both thrilled and afraid, though more so the latter.

“Today is exactly one year since I left Calvin and to be honest, I’ve been in a rotten mood all day. I’ve wanted nothing more than to speak to you about it but I couldn’t since we’re supposed to fighting.”

“You should have.”

“I know.” She sighed and frowned, ashamed for letting her fear drive this edge between them. Even now while they sat in his office, her in his chair and him on the edge of the desk, she wanting nothing more than to stand up and close the gap between them.

“I’m sorry we’re fighting. It’s all my fault.” When he opened his mouth to cut her off, she shook her head. “No, let me finish. If I don’t say all this now then I’m just going to chicken out again later.” She demanded and he couldn’t help but chuckle in response.

“All this time, I’ve been holding you at a distance because I have feelings for you and that scares me. As you know, the last relationship I was in ended terribly and frankly, most of it was horrible as well. I’m just scared that if we start pursuing what’s going on between us, it’s just going to blow up in my face like the last one did.” Audrey sighed and her eyes watered as the truth poured out of her mouth. “I really like you, Joe. I really, really like you. I want to be more than just friends with you. I want to be your stupid girlfriend but I’m so scared that as soon as we try to be happy, things are just going to get ruined and I don’t want that for us. I don’t think I can go through all of that pain and sadness again.”

Joe sighed and pushed himself off the desk. He took a step towards her and held out his arms, a small smile on his face.

“Come here, pretty lady.”

That was all it took for her to jump out of the chair and into his arms. She hadn’t realised just how much she had missed him until her arms circled tightly around her, pulling her flush against his body. Now that she was back in his arms where she so badly craved to be, she lifted her leg and wrapped it around his hip. Joe chuckled and grabbed onto her thigh before lifting her off the ground and sitting on his chair with her now straddling his lap, her face still buried in the crook of his neck as she cried softly.

“How about we take this slow, huh?” He murmured into her hair and she nodded, still sniffling into the collar of his shirt.

“I promise I’ll get better at this. You just have to be patient with me and give me some time, okay?” She sniffled and pulled away slightly so she could at him from under wet eyelashes.

“Lady, I’ll give you all the time in the world if that’s what you need.” He pressed a kiss to her head. “As long as it means that at the end of the day, you’re mine and I’m yours, that’s all that matters.”

-

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Layla Knight

06.07.2020

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