Blissful Aftermath [ROMANCE]

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Twenty-Five

December 27th 2018

It had been a couple of days since she had spoken to Joe, the last time being on Christmas day when she had sent him that pathetic text, and she hadn’t turned her phone on since. She knew that she was being selfish, but the pregnancy news had come out of nowhere and she didn’t know how to handle that newfound piece of information.

Sometimes, Audrey wanted nothing more than to call up Joe and just tell him everything she was feeling, essentially pour her heart out to him but other times, she wanted to kill him.

It didn’t help that in that short amount of time, she had realised that she was completely and utterly in love with him.

Seeing Joe on Christmas Eve had been bittersweet. While she had wanted nothing more than to run into his arms and wrap herself around his body, she was forced to hold herself back otherwise she would never have been able to tell him the news.

Audrey had expected Joe to become angry or even panic when he found out that she was pregnant but after the initial shock had passed, he had been happy with the news. Elated even. If she hadn’t seen the look on his face herself, she would never have believed it.

One of the first thoughts she had when she got pregnant was that he had orchestrated all of this, that he had purposely gotten her pregnant in hopes that she would stay with him, but now that she had a moment to think clearly, she saw how delusional she had truly been. She was both embarrassed and disbelieving of the fact that she had actually accused him of something like that. It was even worse when she saw the truth on his face when he had said that he hadn’t purposely sabotaged the condoms.

As much as she liked to think that she had made a lot of progress in the past two months, there was still a long way left for her to go.

Audrey hated that she blamed all her problems on Calvin and their horrendous, traumatic time together, especially since she had been the one who had chosen to stay with him for as long as she had, but it was the truth. Calvin had ruined many parts of her and made her very untrusting as he often reacted and acted out of character, rendering her often unable to anticipate what he would do next, and she hated that she now projected those past experiences on her new relationship with Joe.

It was like every time they took a step forward; they took another two back. She hated to admit it but every bump in their relationship that they had faced so far, had been her blowing a small spat or issue completely out of proportion.

She didn’t remember herself being so dramatic and paranoid before Calvin, but she was a new woman now and it was about time she came to grips with it. She could no longer run from her past and instead, she needed to face it and embrace it. If she didn’t, then her relationship with Joe would never be able to prosper or blossom into the beauty that she knew it could, if only she was able to work past her demons and allow it.

Hence, her phone had remained off since Christmas day and she intended for it to stay that way until she had all her thoughts in order. That was the least Joe deserved.

She just hoped that when she was finally ready, it wouldn’t be too late.

The fact that she knew that her brother was secretly in contact with Joe meant she wasn’t in a rush to do anything. As long as Isaac continued letting Joe know that she was fine, she had time to attempt to process everything.

Thankfully, her brother had stopped pushing her to call Joe and instead, he had resorted to sending her pointed, secretive looks whenever she saw him. He usually stopped when Claire picked up on it and made him, but the message was not lost on her.

Audrey didn’t know which one was worse.

However, it appeared that the longer she waited to call him, the more reluctant she became. Almost as if she was afraid of the way he would react, especially with the spectacle she had caused in his apartment on Christmas Eve, not giving the man even a moment to defend himself.

Audrey sighed and trudged through the light snow that had blanketed the park. She was sure that it would all melt and be gone by the end of the day, so she was determined to enjoy it while it lasted.

Since her phone was still turned off, she had left it at the house and promised both Isaac and Claire that she would be back within the hour. If not, then she granted them the right to come find her at Central Park which was only a short twenty-minute walk away from her brother’s house but with the snow, it took a little longer than usual but she didn’t mind. That just gave her more time to gather her thoughts and clear her busy mind.

Seeing as she had spent the entirety of the previous day holed up in her room with only Netflix and junk food as buddies, she was determined to walk around the park at least twice to work all of those snacks off.

Realistically, she planned to do one lap and then attempt a second before she gave up, took a seat on a nearby bench before she determined it time for her to head back, but what she hadn’t anticipated was to run into him.

All thoughts of walking laps around the park disappeared from her mind as she froze in her spot and stared at him. As much as she wanted to turn around and head back to the house before he spotted her, that just wasn’t an option.

Audrey wasn’t sure if she was possessed or just plain crazy as her legs worked on their own accord and carried her over to him.

He was sat on the bench alone, his legs stretched out in front of him and his hands braced on either side of his legs, dressed in a familiar dark maroon coat which after a few seconds of staring, she recognised to be one that she had gifted him a few years ago for his birthday.

At the time, he had declared that it was one of the most hideous things he had seen and thrown it aside. It was her who had picked it up when he left, straightened it out and placed it in his closet. She had been surprised that he hadn’t thrown it away, but took that as a win but she hadn’t realised just how much of a win that was.

“Calvin.” She called out to him softly, willing for the person sat on the bench to be a stranger and not her ex-husband.

When his body froze and grew rigid, she knew it was him and that he had heard her; recognised her voice. She also knew that it was now too late to leave.

His head turned slowly, almost as if he couldn’t believe his ears and when his eyes finally met her gaze, they widened and he blinked once, and then twice, almost as if he thought he was hallucinating. He then stared at her for a few seconds, his eyes unblinking. When she coughed awkwardly and looked away from his eyes, he tucked his legs under him and made a move to stand up but she was quick to dismiss him.

“No need to stand up.” Audrey murmured quietly and slipped around the bench to sit down next to him, careful to leave a gap between them so he wouldn’t be able to touch her without reaching out and if he did try to do that, she would notice it and get up before he could do so.

Calvin had their whole marriage to touch her but he no longer held that right.

“Audrey, you’re here.” He proclaimed; his voice laced with disbelief. While she stared ahead at a man playing fetch with his dog, she could feel Calvin’s eyes staring a hole into the side of her face.

“You’re really here.” His voice trailed off quietly, this words still wrapped around with a heavy layer of shock.

She shifted on the bench, uncomfortable with the way he was staring at her. She merely nodded her head in response, not really sure what to say despite the confident way she had approached him.

“I didn’t know you were back in the city.”

Audrey pursed her lips. “And I didn’t expect to run into you here.”

Calvin chuckled awkwardly and he looked away.

When an unbearable silence engulfed them, she seriously considered making up an excuse and leaving. Why she had thought this was a good idea in the first place, she would never know.

When she had first seen him sat on the bench, she had thought that she was seeing things but the closer she got to him, the more certain she was that it was Calvin.

She should have left then.

Well, that’s what the old Audrey would have thought. The old Audrey would have run for the hills as soon as she suspected him to be her ex-husband. It was similar to what she had been doing with Joe; running and pushing him away as soon as things started to get overwhelming for her but these past few days, she had vowed to herself that things would be different.

That she would be different.

They needed to be different or she would forever be stuck in this never-ending spiral of fear that would ultimately unravel to ruin her life.

Audrey wanted to be better. She needed to be better. If not for herself or Joe, then for their baby.

Calvin was the root of all her problems, so what better way to solve them – or even work towards solving them – than look the horse in the eye, or in this case, confront him.

“I called and messaged you a bunch of times after you left.” He said, finally breaking the silence.

“I changed my number.” She shrugged, staring ahead.

“I figured.” He hummed quietly.

Seeing as she was determined to move forward with her life which included finally leaving Calvin and everything negative associated with him and her old life behind, she decided to be truthful with him despite how embarrassing it was.

“I checked your Instagram a few months after I left.” He didn’t need to know that a few months was indeed ten months. “Seems to me you moved on pretty quickly.”

Calvin frowned but she didn’t turn to look at him. She was sure that if she looked at him for too long, she would let her anger get the best of her, and anger wasn’t going to solve anything in this situation. It would just aggravate everything further and leave all her questions unanswered.

“You mean Claire?”

She shrugged, not really sure what the name of his latest fling was.

“She dumped me before we even reached two months.”

Audrey didn’t bother hiding the smirk on her face. “Oh, and why would she do that?” She asked sarcastically, uncaring if she hurt his feelings.

“She thought she could fix me but when she couldn’t, I guess she just gave up.”

“That’s too bad.” She pursed her lips.

“I really loved you, you know.” Calvin sighed, wanting nothing more than for her to believe him. “I still do.”

“Well, that makes one of us.”

“You can’t deny that you didn’t love me.”

“I never denied that.” She finally forced herself to look at him. “I denied still being in love with you.”

“Oh.” Calvin sounded aloud, his expression forlorn.

Audrey didn’t care if she hurt his feelings. She needed to tell him the truth for her own sake.

“Don’t get me wrong, you were my first love and you always will be.” She began, once again turning her head to look away from him. Even though she was utterly and completely over him, that didn’t mean that seeing him again after so long wouldn’t be painful, especially since this was the first time seeing him after their divorce.

“I loved you so much. I loved you unconditionally. Back then, I loved you in a way that I thought I would never be able to love anything or anyone else. That’s how much I loved you, but you didn’t love me back.”

“No, Audrey. That’s not true.” He began and when she sensed that he was gearing up to say something lengthy, she cut him off as she wasn’t finished yet.

This was her moment and she needed him to listen. It was about time she started being selfish.

“You don’t get to tell me how to feel.” She replied sharply, turning to spare him a glare before looking away again.

By now, the man was sat in the snow as he petted his dog, his tail wagging happily at the love and affection he was getting from his owner.

“It’s not fair that you get to love me after I left. That’s not fair on me.” She continued. “You can say that you loved me but the truth is, you didn’t love me in the way I needed you to, and you definitely didn’t love me back. I should have left you sooner. In fact, I should have left as soon as I realised that I didn’t love you anymore, that there was nothing left between us anymore.”

“When was that?” He asked cautiously, afraid that the answer to his question would inflict so much pain on him but he just needed to know.

“Soon after our second Christmas together.” They had been married for just over a year then. “I suspected that you were cheating but I couldn’t prove it but that doesn’t matter anymore. I should have left you then but I didn’t because I had fooled myself into thinking that I loved you when in reality, I was so much in love with what we had used to be. All of me desperately wanted us to be like that again, irrevocably and desperately in love, but I guess life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to.”

“I’m so sorry, Audrey.” He bowed his head in shame but she couldn’t bring herself to feel bad for him.

“For years, you forced me to believe that I was infertile, that I wasn’t a woman because my body couldn’t handle a pregnancy or carry a baby. You fed me all those lies and I believed it.” Only to find out what he had been the problem all along, but that was a low blow, even for her.

Calvin didn’t have any words to say to that. There was absolutely no way he could defend himself against that truth.

He was a disgusting human being and they both knew it.

“We could have worked through it. Science is so advanced nowadays that there’s so many procedures that we could have tried to have a child. We could have even adopted!” She exclaimed, not at all bothered about the fact that her voice had risen several octaves and the man and his dog were now both sending them weird looks.

Audrey was allowed to be upset and she was allowed to express her feelings. She wasn’t married to Calvin anymore. She could do whatever the hell she wanted.

“But you gave up before we could even try. Instead of being there for me or trying to nurture our relationship and work past it, you started cheating on me. What if things had been the other way around?” She questioned him, her eyes burning with rage as she glared daggers at him. “I know for a fact that if in that same situation, I started sleeping around, you would have left me in a heartbeat but I guess that’s what makes us different.” She scoffed and shook her head, disgusted with him and the person that she used to be, the person that she was working hard to no longer be.

“And then you have the nerve to tell me you’re in love with me! Who the fuck do you think you are?” She threw her hands up in the air in both anger and frustration, very tempted to pull at the ends of her hair. She didn’t care that the man with the dog were now leaving the park, throwing them yet another look over his shoulder.

“We still can.”

“What?” Her head turned sharply in his direction, not wanting to believe what she had just heard.

“We still can.” Calvin repeated himself, sliding closer to her on the bench. “We can still have all of that. We can still try fertility treatments and if that doesn’t work, we can adopt.” His hand slid closer to hers. “We can try again, Audrey. Everything will be different this time, I promise. I’ll be different, I’ll be better.” He urged her quietly. “Please don’t give up on us.”

She scoffed and stood up, not sparing him another glance as she walked out of the park.

“I gave up on us years ago, I just didn’t know it then.”

-

Next chapter will be up on Friday!

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Layla Knight

08.07.2020

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