Blissful Aftermath [ROMANCE]

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Five

November 5th 2018

All day, Audrey couldn’t get her mind off Joseph Darcy. It was as if the man had walked back into her life and put a spell on her.

Mind, body and soul.

When she had met him last year, she had seen him as nothing more than a friend. A confidante, even. She enjoyed his company, loved talking to him and he made her laugh, exactly what she needed in a friend to escape the depressing reality of what her sham of a marriage had turned into.

Joe didn’t understand because he had never been married, but he had lent her a listening ear which she very much appreciated and would forever be grateful for. He had taken every opportunity to empower and encourage her to demand better for herself. To demand more from her husband and if he refused, she needed to think about taking further actions.

Well, it turned out that he had been right all along.

Calvin had fallen out of love with her a long, long time ago but she had refused to see it; refused to believe it.

She should have left him as soon as he started sleeping around instead of hoping that he would one day wake up and make up for all that he had done wrong during their marriage. Oh, how naïve and stupid she was to have excused her ex-husband in the way that she had done. As much as she hated Calvin for everything that he had done to ruin them, she hated the part of her that had chosen to stay with him for so long.

But once again, Joe was right.

If she wanted to truly be able to move on, she needed to do much more than just hate that part of herself. She needed to learn to forgive that part of herself.

And that was why she had dishonoured their agreement and terminated their marriage a whole two weeks before it was due. It had been time to finally start loving herself, and that included leaving such a toxic, degrading relationship behind, no matter how much that small part of her, the dominant and overpowering part of her, wanted to give him one more chance. To give them one more chance.

To truly move on and forgive herself, she needed to leave everything behind.

Unfortunately, that included leaving Joe behind as collateral.

As much as she hated to admit it, Joe was a part of her old life and she had needed to leave him behind too. If she had stayed, Audrey was sure that sooner rather than later, she would have slipped up and slipped into his bed. Even though she wouldn’t have regretted it one bit, she refused to stoop down to the derogatory level of her ex. While Calvin had been doing the same things for years, that didn’t make the betrayal of cheating any less and she refused to mar her character and morals that way. She wouldn’t have been any better than her cheating, lying ex-husband and even she knew that she was better than him.

However, what she hadn’t expected was for the very man that she had left behind, that she had found so difficult to resist and then forget, to follow her into her new life.

Just thinking of Joe made her think back to the previous evening.

Oh, how badly she had wanted to kiss him.

She had expected him, hoped even, that he would have kissed her goodnight but instead, he remained respectful and chose to give her a quick hug and some space for her thoughts. Audrey couldn’t help but berate herself for not taking the plunge and planting one on him, but maybe it was for the best.

With everything that they had talked about last night and the way that she had opened up to him, he had given her some solid advice. Food for thought, would probably be a better way to put it.

Audrey couldn’t bring herself to deny her attraction to Joe, but she also wasn’t sure if that was a relationship she wanted to pursue. That was exactly how she had ended up happily married – and then unhappily divorced – to Calvin, a person whom she bad believed to be her one and only, the man of her dreams. The love of her life.

She now snorted at the ridiculous notion and couldn’t help but think of how wrong she had been then. So, how did she know she wasn’t wrong now?

If she allowed herself to give in and open herself up to a relationship with Joe, how could she be sure she wouldn’t be back in this same exact position in a few years?

The answer was easy. She couldn’t.

When her phone chimed on her bed, she blinked in the mirror, a welcomed distraction from her thoughts. Getting up from the cushioned seat at her desk, Audrey walked over to her bed and grabbed her phone.

Her face lit up with a few texts, all from her friends. The newest one was from Sabrina, a fellow software engineer who worked on the floor above hers in a different department. They had met through a mutual friend, Lucas.

Are you ready yet?

Nearly, she typed back.

Sabrina replied back quickly.

Want me to pick you up?

Audrey’s fingers clicked on the screen as she aimed to respond quickly, not wanting to keep her friend waiting, especially since she was doing her the favour of giving her a ride.

Yes, please

Sabrina began typing even before Audrey had been able to send her message.

I’ll be there in 10 minutes

Audrey dropped her phone back on the bed and rushed to finish getting dressed. Since she was already dressed in a simple navy dress that ended just above mid-thigh and which was adorned with thin straps and a square neckline, all she had left to do was finish off her makeup.

Since they were going out, she wore more than she usually did on a normal day at the office, even going all out and using foundation too. She finished off with a generous spritz of setting spray and lightly fanned her face to hasten the setting and drying process. Once all of that was done, she accessorised with a pair of small, dainty silver hoops.

She grabbed her favourite silver heels that went perfectly with her dress, purse and phone before she headed out to the living room, refusing to put on the heels until the very last minute.

Audrey had learnt very quickly that ten minutes to Sabrina equated to at least thirty minutes to everyone else. Despite knowing that, Audrey was quick with her makeup in case it was a blue moon tonight and Sabrina somehow managed to arrive early.

In her old life, she didn’t really have friends as she had given all of herself to Calvin, her ungrateful husband. The few friends that she did have, she fell out of touch with very quickly after she got married. The last time she had seen many of them were at her wedding, and then a brief brunch once she got back from her honeymoon.

While she agreed that she had been a lousy friend and didn’t try as hard as she should have done to keep in touch with her friends, the same could be said about them. Life distanced them which made her think that perhaps, they had just never been that good friends in the first place but rather, more friends of convenience.

Either way, she was better friends with people she had met just only mere months ago than the people she had gone to school with and known for years.

It was very unlike her to go out drinking, even more so with people she classed as friends, but she welcomed this new Audrey. Embraced her, even.

At times, she had to admit that she felt like she didn’t quite fit in and didn’t relate to all of the stories as she had only started hanging out with this group of people for a couple months now – more so her fault than hers as she had turned out nearly every invite to an out of work activity or get-together they extended to her – but she really appreciated every single one of them.

Other than Sabrina and Lucas, their group consisted of Tobias, Harley, Darius, Sapphire and Renee. Tobias and Sapphire were a couple and they worked together in marketing, having met a few years ago when Sapphire joined the company. As she learnt from stories, Tobias was her buddy yet they struggled to get along and from there, the rest was history. Harley worked on the legal team and Darius in IT. Darius had actually been on the other end of the line whenever her computer acted up or she needed permission for things, and it just so happened that he was friends with the others.

With there being so many of them in a friendship group, it was never boring or uneventful to say the least.

While she was very careful never to give too much about herself away, mostly because she didn’t like talking about her past – Joe appeared to be the exception to that – but they were forever supporting even without knowing her story.

Unlike Calvin whom had really been her only friend for a long time, before he turned into her enemy that was, these people had absolutely no agenda towards or against her.

They enjoyed her company and her, theirs. It was as simple as that.

It was the small things in life that really mattered, and she was glad to have people, friends, who helped her through this difficult part of her life. Even if they didn’t know what they were helping her with, or the fact that they were even helping her at all. Any time that she spent with them, was time away from thinking about her fuck up of a life.

Her phone chimed in her hands as she scrolled through Instagram.

I’m outside

Audrey smiled at the text, did a quick check of her apartment before she stepped out and locked up, rushing to catch the elevator as she refused to walk down the stairs in her heels, careful not to trip and land on her face.

Forcing a smile at the building pervert, she tugged on the bottom of her dress and rushed out of the elevators when the door opened, desperate to avoid yet another uncomfortable and slimy conversation with him.

She was quick to get into the backseat of the car, reaching forward to hug Sabrina and Renee whom were both sat in the front.

“Were you waiting long?” Renee asked her as she brushed her fingers through her long, brown hair, having let it down for the evening in her natural curls.

“Only twenty minutes. That’s actually early according to Sabrina’s standards.” She said and they both snickered at the playful jab while the woman in question huffed and rolled her eyes.

“What can I say? This kind of perfection takes time.” She flicked her hair off her shoulder before giggling. For a woman that vowed to stay sober the whole night, she sure had a lot of energy.

“And weekly spray tans.” Renee cut in.

“As if you don’t get your moustache waxed at least twice a week.” Sabrina retorted with a large grin, clearly very satisfied and proud of her comeback.

Renee gasped and hit her on the shoulder, her mouth agape.

Audrey howled with laughter in the back seat as her two friends bickered back and forth like a married couple, each insult worse and more personal than the previous.

When Sabrina pulled up into the parking lot of the club, they all piled out of the car. Before she could get too far, Renee reached for her hand and they all linked arms as they allowed the pumping music to lead them to the club where they looked for the others in the long queue outside.

“I’m on a cleanse right now which so that makes me the designated driver for tonight.” She glanced at Audrey and then Renee, her eyes twinkling with excitement. “That means you two ladies are going to get wasted tonight!”

-

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Layla Knight

03.07.2020

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