Chapter 1 - Let's Take A Break
A young woman, no older than 24, rushed up the steel stairs to her Los Angeles apartment. Her teal dyed hair that was loosely tied in a ponytail was threatening to come undone from both girl’s frantic movements and it’s short length. She had gotten held up at work and was late to make dinner. She came to a screeching halt in front of her door and began rummaging through her floral leather work bag for her keys. She really needed to take some time to clean out her bag and reorganize it. If it was this messy if she was in a horror movie, she’d be the first to die because she couldn’t find her damn keys in this bottomless pit of a bag. Suddenly the door opened just as she pulled out her keychain. It was attached to a cute pastel lanyard with several other colorful keys jingling alongside her house key.
“Yumiko there you are. Why are you home so late?” Yumiko looked up to see her fiance of four years practically towering over her. But then again, she wasn’t the tallest girl out there. Curse her short Asian genes. She shuffled past the blonde man, unzipping and kicking off her black combat boots. They weren’t the most comfortable shoes to wear, but they looked great with her patissier uniform at the hotel.
“I’m so sorry, hun. I got held up in a meeting after work, Mendoza needed to discuss the new dessert menu for the kid’s Spring Tea and the Spring Celebration’s right around the corner so he wanted my opinion on --” Yumiko kept rambling on as she moved about the apartment putting away her jacket and bag and getting a glass of water. She loved to talk about work. As tiring as it gets for her, Yumiko loved her job as head patissier at Le Lumière des Étoiles Hôtel, or more commonly known as The Starlight Hotel. She was lucky to get an offer thanks to her attending a culinary school in France that the hotel was particularly known for hiring graduates from.
“Mendoza kept you? Why didn’t you call me?” Yumiko’s fiance questioned, still standing by the front door, arms tightly crossed over his toned chest, you can faintly see his muscles under his thin white dress shirt. Did he really wear that to work today?
“Ah well, he is the executive sous chef after all. And the Spring Celebration has always been my responsibility, Aiden. I would have called but my phone died, my mom’s been blowing up my phone trying to convince me to come to visit.” Yumiko explained, “But I am sorry I’m late, I’ll get dinner started right away.”
She started pulling out pots and pans and various ingredients to make dinner. Maybe paella? With lots of seafood? No, she lent her paella pan to their neighbor yesterday. It’s a little chilly today, maybe a veggie and bacon stew. She did bake some bread recently that would pair perfectly with it.
“Sure you’re phone died,” the man muttered under his breath, “Hey, put those away. It’s fine. I ordered some pizza since I didn’t know if my girlfriend would be home in time to feed me.”
“Baby, I’m sorry,” Yumiko pouted, wrapping her arms around Aiden, “How can I make it up to you~?”
But he pulled away, walking over to the couch and flopping onto it, “Just forget Yumi. Can you set the table? The pizza should be here soon.” He pulled out his laptop, powering it on. Aiden didn’t usually bring work home with him. Being the managing editor of a popular music magazine didn’t normally bring work home with him since he’s so high up on the chain. Or at least that’s what he always told Yumiko when she asked him. Aiden talked about work a lot, but it was usually about all the big musicians he got to meet and hang out with. Lately, Aiden’s been spending more and more time in the office. But Yumiko’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell ringing. The pizza had arrived, time to eat! The two grabbed their desired slices and retreated back to the couch to watch T.V. while they ate. After devouring a pizza and a half and a few glasses of rosé, Yumiko was feeling very full and sleepy. She glanced over at the clock on the wall, 9:40 pm. No wonder she was so tired, she had been up since 5:30 this morning. Yumiko pulled up the thin blanket closer to her, snuggling close to Aiden whose focus was on something on his phone, a faint smirk playing his lips. His glass of wine dangerously close to spilling due to the angle he held it.
He flinched at her sudden movements, “Hey, stop that! You’re gonna make me spill my wine!” Aiden scolded her, stashing his phone out of her sight and setting the wine glass on the coffee table in front of them.
“But I’m cold~,” Yumiko whined, “And you’re always so much warmer than me~!”
Aiden rolled his eyes at the small girl pouting in front of him, opening his arms. Signaling to her that she was allowed to cuddle him. Yumiko giggled with delight as he practically threw herself on him. She simply adored cuddling with Aiden after a long day of work. Being in his arms made her feel warm and secure. She would rest her head on his chest and listen to the steady thumping of his heart. He always smelled faintly of tobacco and coffee. Yumiko almost drifted off to sleep when she heard the faint sound of her phone ringing. Aiden picked it up off the coffee table, handing it to her.
She took a quick glance at the caller I.D., “Oh it’s Roz,” Yumiko swiped to answer the call, sitting up, “Hello? Roz? Oh, I think you left that in my office…..Mhmm, yeah….Kay….Oh, it’s no problem, I need to head in early again tomorrow anyway. Mendoza needs to have another meeting with me. Yeah, so I’ll just leave my office unlocked for you in case I’m still in the meeting. Okay, you’re welcome. Bye-bye~!”
Yumiko hung up, placing her phone gently back on the table, “Sorry about that. Now, where were we-- What’s wrong?” She stopped suddenly upon seeing the frown on her boyfriend’s face.
“What was that about?” He jerked his head over at the phone lying on the table.
“It was just Roz, they left their lanyard in my office,” Yumiko explained, confused why Aiden was getting so worked up.
“Why was it in your office? Who’s Roz?” Aiden questioned, sitting up so fast that Yumiko nearly fell off, but he had a firm grip on her arm.
“Why are you asking so many questions? Baby, what’s wrong--”
“Don’t change the subject!”
The poor girl flinched badly at his harsh tone, “Roz is one of my pastry chefs. They left their lanyard in my office by accident after dropping off some stuff --Aiden let go! You’re hurting me.”
He roughly let go of her arm, getting up quickly from the couch. Yumiko fell to the floor from the sudden movement. She looked up at him, confused and a little scared. Why was he so upset with her? Was he drunk? Aiden did get a little aggressive when he drank. But he’s only had wine tonight. Yumiko pushed herself up, a hand reaching out towards him. He wasn’t looking at her. She noticed that his fists were clenched.
When she tried to take his hand in hers, he yanked away, “Why does Mendoza keep needing to meet with you?”
“I told you already, it’s because I’m in charge of the Spring Celebration and --” Suddenly, Yumiko, realized what her boyfriend was insinuating, “Do you think I’m cheating on you with him?!”
“If the shoe fits.” He spat out, still not facing her.
Yumiko was furious, she couldn’t believe that her fiance would think that she was cheating on him. With her boss no less! For fucks sake, the man is married, with two kids, and gay!
Yumiko tentatively took a step forward, placing a hand on his shoulder and turning him around so he’d face her, “Aiden, what’s gotten into you? Why would you think I’m cheating on you? And for fuck sake, Mendoza isn’t even into women. Please baby, what’s really wrong?” She looked deep into his dark obsidian eyes. She could see that there was conflict clouding them. She gently placed a small hand on his cheek, his skin was so soft. Upclose, she could faintly see the scar that sat just under his left eye. She remembered the day he got it, it was the same day they met. She was set up on a blind date by a co-worker and it was going terribly wrong. He kept making lewd remarks and trying to touch her. When she had finally told him off, refusing to sleep with him, he got aggressive. That’s when Aiden swooped in and saved the day. The scar was from the broken glass that the bastard had thrown at him.
Aiden stared down at his tiny girlfriend in silence, but just as he was about to respond his phone rang. He glanced at it and back at Yumiko. She let out a tired sigh, letting him go. He answered the call, moving into the next room. Leaving Yumiko standing there alone. They didn’t fight a lot, but when they did, it usually ended with Aiden walking away, by the next day he would be sweet with her again. She wasn’t too bothered by it as long as they stopped arguing. Yumiko made her way to the bedroom, it was getting late and she needed to be up early. By the time she was done getting ready for bed, Aiden was already in bed. His back facing her. She crawled into bed next to him, debating whether or not she should reach out. It was hard for her to tell when Aiden genuinely wanted to be left alone. If he was really upset with her and wanted to be alone, he’d sleep in the guest room, or the couch. It wouldn’t have been the first time. But by the time she woke up, he would be back in their bed, sleeping peacefully next to her. He could be such a dramatic baby sometimes. Yumiko sort of found it cute.
She stared at his back, thinking about what she should do, when Aiden spoke up, “I know you’re staring.”
Yumiko jumped, startled by the sudden sound of his voice in the once silent bedroom, “O-Oh! You’re still awake.”
Aiden turned to face her, “Considering you tripped over a basket on your way in, I don’t think I could have stayed asleep through your racket.” He chuckled, cupping her face.
She put her hands over his, a small blush crept across her face, “Sorry,” She whispered, “Who called earlier?”
“Doesn’t matter, just some work stuff,” Aiden brushed off, kissing her forehead, “You’re so tiny.”
Honey brown eyes met dark obsidian ones. Her eyes sparkled like stars even in the dark room. When she looked into his gaze, she could still see that same conflict that clouded his eyes like before. His head must be racing with a million thoughts. When he smiled at her, it didn’t reach his eyes. She saw a sadness in them…. and guilt? Was he feeling guilty? She was scared to ask him, but she needed to know. If there was something bothering him and she could help him, she should ask him.
“Aiden, is there something bothering you?” She asked tentatively.
“Why would there be anything bothering me, darling?”
“I can see it in your eyes. You’ve been pretty tense lately,” Yumiko pointed out, “What’s wrong?”
Aiden was hesitant to answer. He sat up in bed, back to her again. He had his head in his hands. Yumiko watched from her side of the bed. The sound of her heartbeat filled her ears. Anxiety creeping up over her. She reached out a hand, “Aiden --”
“I think we need a break”
It felt like a million knives had just pierced her chest.
“Wh-What? What do you mean?”
She felt her throat tightened as she fought back tears. It was like her whole world was crashing down around her. She couldn’t breathe. She hadn’t felt like this in years.
Aiden got up, still refusing to look at the girl he was supposed to love, “It’s as simple as that Yumi…. I think we need a break.”
Each word was like another bullet to the heart. Bullets tainted with poison. Poison made of sorrow and confusion and rage.
Yumiko tried to catch her breath, “But-but why? Why all of a sudden? Did I do something wrong?”
“Yumiko, listen…. We’re moving so quickly and-and it’s best we should spend some time apart, um, I need some time alone…. To think.” He pulled his shirt over his head. Grabbing his jacket he made his way out of the bedroom.
Yumiko stumbled out of bed, trying to stop him, “Aiden, wait, please!” She kept trying to reach out to him, but he effortlessly pulled out of her grip, “Aiden….”
He turned around abruptly, growling at her, “Yumiko, stop it! Please…. I just…. I just need some time.”
Before she could stop him, he was already out of the door. She was left to stand there, by herself, her body wracked with sobs as she fell to her knees. There was so much pain, her head was spinning. Shakily, she got up from the floor, making her way into the fridge and pulled out a bottle of bourbon. It was Aiden’s favorite, he wouldn’t normally let Yumiko touch it because it was so expensive, but fuck it Aiden isn’t here right now and Yumiko needed something stronger than wine. She took the bottle over to her room where she spent the rest of the night drowning herself in tears and bourbon. It wasn’t like she could feel anything else besides pain.
Her good old friend, pain.