EVADING EMOTIONS

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Nick

I waited impatiently for Mia to arrive and of all days she was a half hour late. Thoughts of how this was going to go down made me want to puke, but it needed to be done. I had to save myself from the hurt and allow her to go back to the life she wanted to lead. If we both wanted the same outcome out of the past year, we would have been perfect, but Mia was incapable of love and I should have known better than to cling onto fruitless hopes.

The door clicked as it unlocked and swung open as Mia entered. The sight of her left me breathless with her short summer dress that fell mid-thigh, exposing her creamy skin. I got turned on by the sight of her and instantly the decision I was so sure of a couple of minutes ago wavered. She strutted towards me, placing her delicate hands on my chest before giving me a chaste kiss on my lips. She was confusing as hell. We didn’t just fuck, we made love. It was romantic, it was pure and we both felt it, but right now I doubted whether she ever felt it like I had, if it had even meant something to her, other than great sex. My mind snaps back to the situation at hand and I pull away from her kiss. She pouts and I instantly regret it. “We need to talk.” I say. Her eyes show her doubt and fear as she nods. I lead her to the couch, seating her as I sit next to her. “What’s up Nick?” she asks, her voice wavering slightly. “Mia…” I start as I run my fingers through my hair, cursing myself for doing this. “…I want out of our friends with benefits relationship.” I spill, the distance between us already felt. Her eyes widen and then her gaze lowers to her lap. “Why? Is the sex not good anymore?”. “The sex is amazing Mia. We both know that.” I say, trying to remain calm even though I know I’m going to lose my best friend. We both knew thing wouldn’t be the same when this little affair ended but we took our chance anyway. “Then why?” she whispers, playing with the hem of her dress. The action made me look at her creamy thighs, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to slide my fingers across them. “I think you know why.” “I think I do.” she says as she rises from her seat and grabs her bag. That’s it? She takes in my state of shock at her reaction, gives me comforting smile before kissing my forehead. I relish it. “It’s okay. Let’s just try and not be awkward. I wouldn’t want to lose you.” she says before walking out the door. Little did she know that she might have already lost me.

Mia

I sat at my desk attempting to read the manuscript in front of me but I just couldn’t. I huffed in exasperation. It’s been three weeks since Nick had ended our little affair and not once after had he called, texted or even spoke to me at the office. I lost him and I knew it. I ruined the only relationship that ever meant anything to me. I lost my best friend. I wanted to cry so badly but I never allowed myself to. To say that I thought would be easier would be a lie, I knew it would be bad but it was way worse than I could have ever expected. I missed him in so many ways and I hardly slept because he wasn’t there to spoon with me. My apartment was foreign to me, a place that didn’t feel like home. The day went by quick, I guessed Nick was out of town again since he hadn’t been to the office during the week, but not like that was unusual since lately he had been working at home and totally avoiding me when he was in. I tried to talk to him but he seemed disinterested and blew me off. Everything felt so weird right now and I realised that Nick was the only person I had and could actually trust. Our Netflix and chill hangout sessions were a thing of the past and I missed it so much. I missed the laughter, the rolling in the sheets, the cute little moments we shared as friends and as a little more. Now that I’ve had Nick, I knew that no other man would live up to him and that bummed me out. I was going to be lonely and insatiable my entire life. Thankfully it was a Friday, so I planned to sulk at home, wrapped in tons of blankets and weep my eyes out.

I entered my apartment, the lounging area was neat and tidy and so was the kitchen. It was if it was abandoned. The only place that showed I had actually been here was my bedroom that held memories of Nick and me. I showered and jumped into bed before I started crying. Food was the furthest from my mind even when my stomach grumbled in protest. I fell asleep after two hours of endless weeping, the hole getting bigger as time passed.

Sudden ringing woke me up from my stupor and I wiped the wet drool from my chin. “Hello.” I say, answering the call before checking the caller ID. “Hello. Mia?”, a woman’s soft, hoarse voice came through the speaker and immediately I knew who it was. “Aunt Hilda?”, I say wondering how in the world she had gotten my number. When I had moved from New Orleans to New York at the ripe age of eighteen, I made sure no one could contact me and now my aunt was on the other end of the line. She sniffled before sobbing uncontrollably. “Aunt, what’s wrong?”, I ask, my heart pounding in my chest. Aunt Hilda, who was my mother’s elder sister, was the strongest and most straight forward woman I’ve known. She never cried, not even when her husband passed on. My mother and aunt were close since they were the only family they had, apart from me, so that only meant something was wrong with my mother. “Aunt?”, I say, sitting upright in my bed, my cold palms pressed to my chest. “It’s your mother. She’s dead.”

Nick

I sat on the couch, strolling through the TV channels before throwing the remote to the floor. I felt so miserable these past few days and seeing Mia at work was just unbearable, so I holed myself in my apartment, never setting foot in my bedroom because it held her scent. Not like any other place didn’t hold memories of her and it was like I was purposely punishing myself by being here. But it was worse seeing her in the flesh, knowing that I couldn’t touch her, that I couldn’t love her anymore. I had to keep away from her, I had to let my love for her fade before being her friend again, but I knew that might be impossible after secretly loving her all those years. I closed my eyes and successfully cleared my tormented mind.

A knock on the door caught my attention and I closed my eyes again, planning to ignore it. The knock came fiercer this time and I still ignored it. The clicking of the lock brought me to my feet, panic setting in as I grabbed the signed, display baseball bat from the wall. I inched my way slowly to the door as it swung open to reveal Mia. I released a breath of relief, before throwing the bat on the floor. “What the fuck Mia?” I ask, my anger seeping through. The light from the hallway illuminated her as she entered the dimly lit apartment, making her shine like an angel, almost making me breathless. She looks at me now and I see tears running down her cheeks, instinctively making me worry. She ran as she closed the small distance between us, almost taking me down as she wraps her arms around my waist and presses her cheeks to my chest as she sobs. “I’m sorry. I know I’m probably the last person you want to see right now, but I need you.” My mind raced, I should back away. I couldn’t allow myself to hurt anymore, but instead my heart won and I wrap her in my arms as I take in the scent of her shampooed hair, instantly calming me. “What’s wrong?”, I ask as I guide her face by her chin to face me. She doesn’t answer; instead she kisses me, hard and desperately, not giving me a chance to breathe. She lifts the hem of my shirt, throwing it to the ground after it was removed, slid down my sweatpants as she pushed me to my bedroom. Once I hit the bed, she made quick work of removing her dress, her tear-stained face making her look more innocent , a striking contrast to the devil I knew she was in bed. I halted her as she felt me up, forcefully pulling myself away from her kiss that I needed so badly. Although I was hard as a rock, I needed to know what was wrong. Just because I didn’t want to love her anymore, doesn’t mean that I should stop caring. “Stop all of this. Tell me what’s wrong.”, I demand. She looks at me, her eyes lost in another world. I didn’t recognise the woman in front of me. Mia was always strong and carefree, but now she seemed weak and vulnerable. “My mother…” she starts as she sobs, her body shaking violently. I wait for her to continue. “She had a heart attack and now she’s gone.”, she cries harder and I pullher on top of me, holding her as she cries for a long, long time.

Mia lay asleep in my bed as I tip-toe out of the bedroom, softly closing the door behind me. After putting on some coffee, I take a seat by the kitchen counter. I just have to be with her until she is okay, then I’d starve myself of her and find a way to get over her and move on. I had to, she left me no choice. Seeing her like this made it so much more difficult. What bothered me most was that she told me that she had no parents, so I had assumed they had passed in earlier years. Clearly she had lied and she never spoke of them since, not that I had asked either. But why would she lie? The bedroom door creaked open and Mia wrapped the robe she had arrived in tightly over her body as she seats herself in the chair next to mine. “Coffee?” I ask and she nods. As I pour the coffee, she looks to the ground, tears escaping her puffy eyes. “Do you need a few days off?” I ask. She shakes her head slowly. “Aren’t you going to the funeral?”, I ask, curiously. “I can’t go back there.” she whispers, taking the steaming hot cup of coffee from my hand, not even feeling the burn. I wait for her to explain, but she doesn’t, so I ask, “Why?” She remains silent, as she takes a sip of the coffee and I flinch for her. “Mia?”, I ask cautiously. “Nick please, I just can’t go back there and face everyone. I let go of my mother years ago so I don’t need to bid her farewell now. She doesn’t deserve, or would have wanted that honour from me.” I stare at her, appalled. How could she hate her mother so much? “Nick. I’m sorry I barged in on you. I’m sorry that I came to you especially after everything that has happened. I’ll leave now.” she says, as she places her cup on the counter and exits her seat. “No.” I say and she stops. “Stay here.” I say. “Are you sure?” “Yes.” I say, even though it was a lie. “Thank you.” she whimpers and she makes her way back into my room.

Mia

I didn’t know how I ended up here, all I knew was that when I saw Nick, a dam just burst and he was the only one that could take the flood. He looked at me like I was a monster when I had refused to attend my mother’s funeral. I knew he wouldn’t understand, but I didn’t expect his judgement would make me feel so much worse about myself and the situation. The sun that shone through the window was a happy façade. The world was rotating while I lay there motionless. Losing my mother hurt. It hurt way more than I ever expected it to. That woman seemed as if she would live until she was 100 and maybe that’s why it was such a shock. She was a health fanatic, which made her pick on my lack of healthy choices and made her laugh when my clothes became tighter. Not like I was a growing person or anything. She made me feel miserable about myself and I was okay with it. She was my mother after all and all I wanted to do was please her, but instead she was the one who let me down in the worst way. I lost my father a few months before I was born and I never met any of his family. The only family I knew and grew up with was mum, Aunt Hilda and her deceased husband. I didn’t want to push Aunt Hilda away, but if I didn’t then she would make me talk to my mum and ‘sort through things’, which I refused to do and still do, even though regret is starting to take over. I hadn’t seen or spoken to my mother for ten whole years and I wondered if she was happy with what she had done. I wondered if she had ever regretted it.

Nick enters the room carrying breakfast in a tray. The aroma is delicious and I had no idea how it could make me want to puke. I didn’t deserve Nick. I played with him after knowing what he was looking for in a woman. Even though he knew I couldn’t be what he wanted, I was still selfish enough to stop him from finding the right woman. My feelings for him didn’t help the matter but I couldn’t allow myself to get hurt again. Never again. Nick places the tray in front of me and I shake my head, pushing it back to him. He gives me a stern stare which makes me feel like a child, before ordering me to eat. I shake my head again, bile wanting to spill from my mouth. He cuts through a piece of toast and eggs, piling the pieces in the fork and offers it to my mouth. I couldn’t refuse his care so I took a bite. He continued feeding me until I couldn’t digest anymore and he finished off my plate. “Mia. I know it’s not my place, but I think you should see your mother for the last time.” he says carefully as he places a cup of coffee in my hands. “I can’t.” I say, shuddering at the thought of going back there and facing humiliation. “I don’t know why you are refusing, but I think you should. You wouldn’t want to regret saying goodbye to her. You won’t get the chance again.” I knew Nick meant well. Living with regret is what I was used to but I guess he was right. She was the woman who raised me, who fed me, who loved me in some sense - I hoped. “Okay.” I agree before changing my mind. “I should go pack.”

I stood in line at the airport, waiting for my luggage to be checked. “What’s your seat number?”, I hear a familiar voice over my shoulder and I turn in the direction. Nick stood behind me with his luggage beside him. “What are you doing here?” I look at him, dumbfounded. “Isn’t it obvious? I’m going with you.” No, no, no. He can’t come with me. “No Nick, Please don’t.” I plead, ready to go on my knees and beg if I had to. It would be so humiliating if he found out about my fucked up family. “Whether you want to admit it or not Mia, you need support and I am your friend and I care about you. So I’m going to be there by your side and support you. End. Of. Story.” My heart clenches as emotions take over me. Nick was wonderful and I was such a shitty person. I knew not to argue with him, it was futile, so I prepared myself for the storm to come.

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