Blissful Aftermath [ROMANCE]

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Twenty-Seven

December 28th 2018

It had been over a year since Audrey had found herself standing in front of the house that she once used to call home but now, it just brought on an influx of painful memories and unwanted reminders. However, unlike the last time where she had been weak and come crawling back here, she didn’t feel that yearning she had done before and instead, she couldn’t wait to get this over with so she could leave and never return.

This time, she had taken her car and parked it in the driveway. Just to waste time, she had reversed the car into his driveway so it would be both easy and quick for her to leave if she needed to make a quick getaway, or if he suggested that they get back together again.

Just thinking of going back to Calvin made her feel sick, and that had absolutely nothing to do with her bad case of morning sickness.

Audrey inhaled deeply and tapped her knuckles against the front door. He took quite a while to open the door but when she heard him fumble around and swear quietly, she knew he was home so waited patiently for him to get to the door. She had no doubt that he was probably hungover from last night.

Calvin always drank when he was sad and with the way she had left him in the park the other day, she had no doubt in her mind that he was sad. Beyond sad, but that was all due to his own fault.

“Audrey?” Calvin asked in surprise, his body frozen as his wide eyes settled on her, seemingly flabbergasted and at a loss of words after having realised it had been her knocking on his door that morning.

“Can I come in?” She asked quietly, leaving room for him to turn her away, not that she thought he would.

Calvin merely gulped and nodded his head slowly before taking a step back and opening the door for her, silently inviting her in.

When she stepped in, everything came rushing back to her.

She always spent her evenings waiting up for him even though she knew that he wouldn’t dare come home before midnight. She had waited for him last night, the night before that, the night before that night and would continue doing so into the unforeseeable future because she loved him.

Too bad it was unrequited love and he could barely stand to look at her for more than a few seconds.

She wasn’t sure how long it had been but she must have fallen asleep as when she heard the loud sound of the door banging against the wall, her body sprang up on the sofa and she stared at the intruder with wide eyes. Even though this was how he woke her nearly each and every night, she couldn’t help but react the same way.

“Were you drinking?” She asked softly as she rose to her feet, allowing the blanket to drop to the sofa.

He merely grunted into response and stumbled into the house, immediately heading toward the stairs, not even bothering to close the door behind him.

A sigh passed her lips as she walked over to close and lock it, not looking to be robbed or murdered in her sleep that night by an opportunistic criminal.

Turning around, she glanced up the stairs which he had already managed to somehow climb halfway up in his drunken stupor.

Some days were better than others and unfortunately tonight, it was one of the better evenings. She had to admit it but by ignoring her, it only hurt her more.

Following behind him in silence, she made sure to remain a few steps behind in case he swung back as he occasionally did, knowing that he would need to be tucked into bed that night.

After that, she would head back downstairs and sleep on the couch as that was their new normal, their routine. And what a sad routine that was.

He must have realised her train of thoughts as her eyes zeroed in on the very sofa that she had spent many nights sleeping on in attempt of waiting up for him, so he cleared his throat loudly to divert her attention back to him, shifting uncomfortably on his feet.

Audrey blinked at Calvin, waiting for him to say something.

“Do you want to sit in the kitchen?”

She nodded even though she wasn’t particularly fond of the memories that came with the kitchen either, but that location would be better than sitting on that sofa again.

Audrey followed him into the kitchen even though she knew exactly where it was, having designed it herself with the help and guidance of an interior designer.

“Do you not have work today?” Audrey asked as she took a seat on one of the stools, watching as he stood with his back to her. He pulled open a few cabinets, almost as if looking for something.

He shook his head. “I took the day off.”

Her eyebrows shot up in surprise at that, but she didn’t comment on it. The Calvin she knew never took a day off work unless it was an emergency, national holiday – and even then, he opted to work from home – or he was spending the day with one of his many girlfriends.

But here he was, clearly having just woken up by the sound of her knocking on the front door.

When he continued his fruitless search, she sighed and caved in.

“What are you looking for?”

Calvin gulped and spared a glance at her over his shoulder. “The mugs.”

Audrey nodded and stood up. She walked around the island and brushed past him to one of the cupboards he hadn’t checked yet. She opened it and pulled out two mugs, one for each of them, the action familiar to her after having done it so many times over the years.

“What are you trying to make?”

“Coffee?” It came out more as a question than a statement.

Audrey coughed awkwardly and averted her eyes.

“I’m not really in the mood for coffee.” She lied.

She could really do with some coffee to get her through this awkward, yet hopefully uplifting conversation, but she couldn’t because she was pregnant, even if only a few weeks.

He chuckled, the sound strained, as he moved over to the fridge to look for an alternative. When he opened it, she spied its empty contents apart from a few familiar bottles and a box of pizza. It was evident that he survived on takeout now.

“What about a beer?”

She frowned and glanced down at the kitchen counter.

“Some water is fine.” She said, hoping that he would sit down as him flailing around the kitchen, absolutely lost and with no idea of what to do or where everything was kept, was painful to watch. And to think that he had a whole year to familiarise himself with his own kitchen.

Calvin chuckled quietly; the sound extremely strained as he filled her mug with some water while he brewed coffee for himself. When he was done, he slid her mug of water in front of her and took a seat on the barstool opposite her on the other side of the kitchen island.

“I didn’t expect to see you again, especially not after the other day.”

“Me neither.” She replied honestly.

“Then what are you doing here, Audrey?” He asked, his tone almost hopeful, his eyes refusing to move away from her.

“Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not here to get back with you.” She sighed when his shoulders slumped, but there wasn’t anything she could do about that. “As much as I would have loved to adopt a child with you when we were still married, I’m not that person anymore and that’s not something I want with you anymore.”

She hoped he wasn’t the same person he was back then either.

“Yeah, I know.” He sighed sadly and bowed his head, drawing some random patterns on the kitchen counter with the tip of his index finger. “I realised what a big mistake that was as soon as you left but before I could apologise, you were already gone.”

“I really wanted to get away from you.” Audrey didn’t bother trying to sugar coat her words as she was doing this for herself, and not for him.

“I don’t blame you. I would want to get away from me as well if I was you.”

Audrey didn’t quite know what to say to that so when an awkward silence enveloped them, she said the first thing that came to her mind.

“You don’t look too good.”

He pursed his lips and hummed. “I haven’t been at my best for the past few days.” He wanted to say for the past twelve months, but he didn’t want her to run away again, not before they got a moment to talk things through.

When the conversation died again, it was up to her to bring it back to life before she delved into why she was really here.

“How’s your family?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

Her eyebrows furrowed together in confusion as she watched him. Calvin had been very close with his family. He held immense love for each and every one of them, and that had been one of the reasons she had fallen in love with him in the first place.

“Why wouldn’t you know?”

“I haven’t seen them for a few months now. Actually, I saw them on Thanksgiving, but we didn’t do too much talking.”

“What happened?” She questioned even though she was starting to catch on.

“Kade told my parents everything.”

“What do you mean by everything?” She questioned; her eyes wide with surprise.

The last time she had spoken to Calvin’s older brother, he had vowed that he would be there for his brother every step of the way on this long, painful journey of moving on, – as well as support her in any way she needed – so what could have possibly changed?

“He told them why we got divorced and the way I treated you.” He explained, not looking her in the eyes, his eyes still focused on the kitchen counter as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.

“Oh.” She sounded aloud, not really sure what to say. “Why would he do that?”

“Because I deserve it.”

As much as she wanted to tell him not to be too harsh on himself, it just wasn’t her place anymore.

The other part of her wanted to kick him while she was down but she refrained from doing that as she just wasn’t that sort of person, and she refused to stoop down to his level. Kicking her while she was down was exactly what Calvin used to do to her and she still vividly remembered how it would make her feel.

Even if he did deserve it, she was better than him and that was a fact.

Instead, she hummed and sipped at her water before proceeding with why she was really here. Audrey was aware that she was probably being insensitive, but she hadn’t come here to hold his hand and make him feel better about himself.

“I actually came here to apologise for the fake letter.”

“What fake letter?”

“The letter that I had left behind after the divorce. The one that said I was infertile.”

It was painful and embarrassing to explain just which letter she was referring to, but perhaps it was just better to rip off the band aid than try to spare his feelings.

Calvin looked at her sadly. “The doctor actually called me the next morning and asked me to come in. When I did, he told me that I was the infertile one and I knew then that you had faked the letter.”

“Right, I’m sorry about that again. It was a shitty thing of me to do and I want you to know that I sincerely apologise and regret my actions.”

She winced at the memory. It definitely wasn’t one of her smartest moves, but she had let her emotions get the best of her.

Calvin shook his head, his eyes dark and his jaw clenched.

Audrey frowned. She knew that bringing up the letter would be a sensitive topic, but surely time had healed that wound.

“I’m the one that ruined your life and destroyed our marriage, and you’re the one that apologises?” He chuckled sarcastically, the sound of it low and gravelly. “You really are too good for me.” It was almost as if it was painful for him to admit that aloud.

“Saying things like that isn’t going to help.”

“As if I can be helped.” He scoffed and looked away from her, an angry expression on his face but she knew it was more directed towards himself than her.

Audrey refused to comment on that, as this appeared to be an issue that he needed to work through himself. She couldn’t be there for him anymore, not if she valued herself in the least bit.

She wasn’t that same woman anymore.

“I always knew that I hurt you. Even in the moment, every time that I said or did something to you and I saw the look on your face afterwards, I knew that I had fucked up. That was one of the things I both loved and hated about you, that you were so expressive. I could always tell how you were feeling just by looking at your face. Every time I hurt you or made you upset, I knew.”

“Where are you going with this?” She sighed, not sure if she wanted to hear much more of this.

“I don’t know.” Calvin admitted with a sigh, but continued, needing to get this off his chest. “I believed my own lies and allowed them to rule me as I destroyed us. As I destroyed you.” He paused and looked at her briefly before looking away, almost as if he couldn’t face her as he continued to speak. “I’m so sorry for everything I did to you, for everything that I put you through.”

“I know.” She murmured quietly when he paused, struggling to string together the thoughts in his mind.

“You were absolutely perfect, you still are. You were so good to me all the time, even when I didn’t deserve it. Even after the way I treated you like shit, you always looked out for me.” He paused and forced himself to glance up at her. “You know that saying that says you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone, that’s how I feel about you. When we were married, I hated you so much but as soon as you left, I just felt so empty. The first couple of days, I didn’t leave the house. I waited around for you to come back. I even prayed you would.”

“I know how selfish that sounds, praying for you to come back after everything that I put you through. I still can’t believe that I had someone so sweet and loving, and I pushed you away. I can’t believe that I pushed you away.” He whispered quietly and when she noticed the tear drop down his face, she looked away.

“I need you to know how sorry I am, Audrey. For everything.”

“I know.” She sighed.

“I still love you.”

She didn’t comment on that. He waited for her too, watching her with eager eyes, but when she ignored his declaration of love, he sighed and looked down at the kitchen counter.

So, this is what heartbreak felt like. And to think that he had put her through that a countless number of times during their marriage.

“I need you to know that I forgive you.”

“What?” His head snapped up in shock.

“I forgive you for everything that you did to me, but I will never forget.”

“I don’t deserve your forgiveness.”

“You’re right, you don’t.” She attempted to keep the smile off her face as he bowed his head again. “But I do.”

He glanced up at her again, the silent question evident in his eyes.

“I will never be able to forget everything that I went through while married to you, but I will forgive you because I deserve to be able to move on with my life. I’ve been holding onto all of this anger and resentment towards you for the past year and frankly, it’s been Hell. I don’t deserve to live like that. I deserve to be happy and I can’t have you holding me back anymore, so, I forgive you.”

Calvin stared at her with wide eyes, speechless.

“You need to forgive yourself too.” Audrey started, making sure to hold his gaze so he knew just how serious she was. “After today, I have no doubt that we will ever see each other again, but it will do you some good if you are able to forgive yourself. If you don’t, well, I can’t imagine the rest of your life being much pleasant.”

“I don’t deserve to be forgiven by either of us.”

Audrey sighed. “Then earn it.”

“Earn it?” He questioned; his mind perplexed and his thoughts all jumbled together.

She nodded. “I’ve already given you my forgiveness and regardless of whether you deserve it or not, you need to forgive yourself too. If you don’t think that you deserve it, then you need to become the kind of man that does.”

Calvin sat stumped on his stool as her words settled in. Being away from her for so long, he had forgotten how wise she was, just another thing that he had taken for granted while they had been married.

“Going forward, I wish you nothing but happiness, Calvin.” She whispered to him, afraid that her voice would crack if she used her usual voice. “I really do. You might not believe it now, but everyone deserves to be happy. Even you. And if you still don’t believe me, then take my advice and change into the kind of man that does. Otherwise, you’ll live a sad, miserable life and you won’t have anyone to blame but yourself.”

A curt chuckle sounded from him, but his eyes did not shine with happiness.

“I wish the same for you.” Despite his positive words, she noted the forced smile on his face and the light clenching of his jaw, almost as if it pained him to let her go, even though she wasn’t technically his anymore and hadn’t been for a long time now.

He still loved her, she had no doubt about that as he had made it very clear but for the first time since she had known him, it no longer affected her.

Frankly, she no longer cared whether Calvin loved her or not as her heart now belonged to someone else.

“I hope you find someone to love you like you deserve, much more than I could ever.”

She already had.

Even if they hadn’t expressed their feelings towards each other yet, she knew she loved Joe. So much. And she just hoped that he felt the same way.

“Is it mine?”

At first, she was confused but when she noticed him staring at her stomach, she placed an instinctive hand over where her baby was growing.

“Calvin, we haven’t slept together in over a year.” She pointed out quietly.

Even if he had mistreated her horribly for years during their marriage, she felt bad for him. While she was moving on with her life, he was still stuck in the past. As much as the old Audrey would done everything and anything to help him, fix him, she couldn’t be there for him like that anymore. She had done it before and as bittersweet as it was, she had quickly learnt that she just wasn’t enough for him. Calvin needed something more from a life partner and while this had been one of the many reasons for her heartbreak while they were still married, it simply didn’t affect her anymore.

Something told her a certain Joseph Darcy had something to do with that.

He bowed his head and shrugged, purposely avoiding her eyes, too painful to look at the person he had let slip through his fingers time and time again, not realising her to be the radiant gem that she was until it was truly too late and he had already lost her.

“Wishful thinking, I guess.” He mumbled quietly and she took that as her cue to leave.

Audrey didn’t look back as she left him out of the kitchen and let herself out of the house for what would definitely be the last time. She got into the car and peeled out of the driveway, not once looking back.

From now on, she would only be moving forward.

-

Next chapter will be up on Saturday!

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Layla Knight

10.07.2020

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