I closed my eyes and tried to remember his lips on mine and how his hands felt as he scoured my body. I turned over, and for the first time, I thought about calling my Mom. Despite everything we had been through, there was something within me that wanted to reach out to her.
I shook my head, trying to shake out my thoughts and need to reach out to her. I was grateful that Nolan gave me the day off, but I still had to go over the menu with Nico. I wanted everything to be perfect, and I knew that Nico needed everything to be perfect.
Looking down at my phone, I somehow found myself typing in the numbers to my brother’s cell phone. I clasped the phone close to my ear, waiting to hear Miles’ voice.
He was one of those people that didn’t program a voicemail, and the automated voice greeted me with slight disdain. I held my breath and hung up. Maybe this was a sign. I didn’t feel ready to talk to anyone anyway.
I looked down as my phone began to ring.
“Hello?” I asked quietly.
“Zoey?” I heard Miles say in response. “What the fuck Zoey!? Where have you been!? What is going on!?”
“Do you know that Mom has been worried sick about you? Seriously. She was just in the hospital,” Miles said angrily.
“This is just like you. You make everything about yourself. You don’t even care how your decisions impact other people,” Miles said scathingly. “Where are you? I’m in LA.”
“I don’t really want-”
“I don’t care what you want, Zo!” He shouted into the phone. “You have been missing so long that Mom has had to involve the police. You are a missing person! I can’t even believe that you did this. This was a whole other level that I never thought you would even stoop to.”
“HEY!” I shouted into the phone. “Are you going to let me even talk?”
“I don’t care what you have to say, Zoey. I seriously don’t,” Miles said darkly. “There is no excuse for how you have acted or how you have treated our Mom. I want you to meet me at the coffee shop by the house. I don’t give a fuck where you are. You have 1 hour to meet me there. I’m leaving now.”
He hung up.
I looked down at my phone, immediately regretting dialing his number. I should’ve just kept living my life and just moved on.
I closed my eyes and couldn’t help the tears that were beginning to slide down my cheeks. I looked around me and noticed the fantasy that I had allowed myself to build.
I didn’t belong here. Whatever life I thought I was living, it wasn’t mine. This wasn’t my life, I thought as my fingers traced over the spot where Nolan had just been.
All at once, I felt completely and utterly naked. I pulled my knees to my chest and began to build the will to move. I just wanted to crawl into myself and cry. If I could fall back asleep and be swallowed by the darkness of dreams, I would rather that than have to go and see my brother.
But I had to go. I had to. I knew that I had to. My mind held onto the thought of what my brother had said. I had to go.
I slowly walked out of the room and down the stairs. I allowed my fingers to linger on the walls and the banister, trying to commit everything to my memory. I quickly showered, threw on some clothes, and packed everything into my backpack that I had brought with me here.
I looked at the dresses that I left in the closet and wondered if Nolan would notice that I was gone. But, as I looked around the room, it didn’t really seem like I had left. I held my breath as I made it to the front door.
I didn’t want to leave.
Even just holding the doorknob left me in the most excruciating pain. I kept looking back and feeling like I was doing something wrong, but I lost the fight with myself as soon as I looked down at the light on my phone flashing the time. I had thirty minutes to get to Miles.
He was all the way in the valley, and in mid-day traffic, it would take me close to an hour to get to him, but I texted him that I was on my way.
It wasn’t hard to spot him in the diner. As soon as the Uber dropped me off, our eyes locked. I could feel the heat of his anger in his gaze, and it took a moment for me to gather the courage to walk towards him.
“Vanilla cappuccino,” he said as he pushed it towards me.
“Thanks,” I said softly as I eased my way into the seat across from my brother.
“What happened, Zo?” Miles said as he combed his fingers through his hair.
“It was just stuff with Gavin and me,” I rolled my eyes when I said my stepfather’s name. “It was honestly just a matter of time. You know what it’s like, and I’m tired of pretending like it’s all so wonderful when it’s not.”
“You really didn’t have to do everything this way, though. You always have to make everything so dramatic, and this was all just ridiculous. If you wanted to move out, you could’ve just moved.”
I paused, reflecting on what my brother said. Everything had happened so quickly, and there was so much happening at that moment- there was Mark crying, Gavin yelling, and my Mom yelling...
At the moment, I felt like all I wanted to do was run. I started feeling self-conscious and embarrassed by how I acted. Was I wrong?
I looked up at Miles trying to hide the tears in my eyes. Even now, I just wanted to run. But it wasn’t from Miles. Instead, I felt like the real person I was trying to run from was myself.