#39 Communication really is key
James is just as nervous as I am when I walk into his apartment, ready for a talk about what’s going on with us. I texted him that I needed to see him, asking if he was home, and it seems he’s been pacing up and down the living room the whole time he waited for me to walk over to his place.
“What’s going on?” he asks, worry swirling in his eyes.
“I need to tell you something,” I start out, sitting down on the couch and motioning for him to sit down beside me. “And I’ve got some questions for you as well. Basically… we should talk.”
“Okay,” he says, angling his body towards me and putting a hand on my knee. “Is this about you having sex with Joshua?”
“What?” I ask, shocked. Fuck. Destiny was right. James thinks that I cheated on him
“Look, I get it, you were angry at me and I was totally out of line in the hospital,” James says, not even angry with me. “You were mad at me and vulnerable and he probably took advantage of that. I could tell something was off the second you walked in, lying about why you went home, refusing to even talk about our fight.”
“I didn’t have sex with Joshua,” I say quickly, glad that I took Destiny’s advice to have a serious conversation with James. “But something did happen.”
“Oh.” James looks relieved. “Okay. What happened? Did you kiss?”
I shake my head. “No, we… I fell asleep in his bed and we cuddled.”
James’ eyebrows go all the way up. “That’s it? You cuddled?”
“Well, he had an erection and I looked at it,” I add, feeling stupid. I tell James the whole thing, how we started out talking on either sides of the bed, how I accidently fell asleep in his bed, and how I woke up wrapped around him. I don’t leave anything out, not even that I was curious about Joshua, that I found him attractive.
When I’m done, James is smiling. “Honey,” he says, taking my hands in his. “That’s so much better than what I thought happened. I mean, okay, it stings, and I don’t like it, and I’m definitely not going to be okay with you hanging out in his bedroom ever again, but I thought you cheated on me! Why didn’t you just tell me? Am I really that bad that you thought you couldn’t tell me this?”
The truth is… Yes, I did think that he would flip out over this. Could you blame me? After the way he behaved in the hospital? I feel so stupid now that he’s being all kind and understanding.
“Why didn’t you confront me when you thought I was cheating on you?” I ask him, needing to understand his thought process.
He grunts. “I know, that was stupid. I was scared that like Teddy, you would pick the other guy over me. Joshua gets your music in ways I don’t, he needs you to care for him and you’re a nurturer, he’s handsome, you confide in him about missing your father, about our relationship… Is it really that strange that I was scared you would pick him over me?” He pauses and looks down at our intertwined hands. “That I’m still scared that you will pick him over me?”
“Don’t be.” I scoot over to him and kiss him softly, wanting to make him stop doubting himself. “I’m not going anywhere.”
We take a moment to kiss and revel in the fact that we didn’t lose each other, even though we were both fearing walking away from this conversation single.
“The way you went off at me in the hospital…” James shakes his head and winces. “I’ve never seen you like that. So… fierce. Angry. Ready to bite my head off.”
“Sorry,” I say, feeling a little embarrassed. “I don’t get like that very often, trust me. I was just fed up with you doubting me.”
“Don’t be sorry,” he says fiercely. “You need to bring out that side more often, Franny. Don’t be scared to tell me off, okay? I’ve been wondering for two weeks now if I’m doing things right, if you’re honest with me about what you want and what you don’t want. The biting for example – why didn’t you tell me right away that you don’t want me to bite you during sex? I hate that I hurt you.”
I shrug. “It was okay in the heat the moment and you seemed to like it.”
James grunts and takes my face in his hands, forcing me to meet his intense gaze. “It doesn’t matter if I like it. If you don’t, I won’t do it again. Also… why do you use sex as a weapon?”
“As a weapon?” I repeat, blinking a few times. “What do you mean?”
“When you miss me, you want to fuck me. When you’re drunk, you want to fuck me. And even when you want to distract me from figuring out what the hell is going on with you, you get on your knees and blow me. There’s nothing wrong with sex, and I’d love to keep sleeping with you, but not for the wrong reasons.”
He’s so sweet. So perfect. So understanding. James and his jealousy aren’t the only thing putting a strain on this relationship. I am just as guilty. Destiny was right. I’ve got issues too.
“I’ve never been in a relationship before you,” I say, trying to look away from him, but he won’t let me. He’s not using force on me, I could break away if I wanted to, but he makes it clear he wants to look into my eyes while I talk. That he wants me to see his reaction as well. “I don’t know how to tell you things. I’ve always used sex to keep guys with me, because that’s usually all they like about me anyway.”
“You’re so much more than that,” he whispers, wiping away my tears. “So much more.”
“No one has ever seen me for more than that,” I say, still crying. “Never. And then there was you. And Thomas. And maybe Joshua. I just… it got to be too much.”
“Thomas?” James asks, pulling back a little. “What do you mean, Thomas?”
Oh shit. Why did I say that?
“He told you he likes you too, didn’t he?” James curses and drops his hands from my face. “And you didn’t tell me. Of course you didn’t tell me, after me telling you how jealous I can be. Fucking hell, Franny, what else have you been keeping from me?”
Finally, he’s getting angry. After so much understanding, it was only a matter of time.
“I don’t like that you make me feel bad about partying and drinking,” I go on, needing to get it all out. “And I feel stupid drinking beer when you give a strange look and sip your grown-up wine. And I hate using coasters.”
“Coasters?” James asks, laughing in spite of everything. “You don’t like coasters? Okay, fine, no more coasters. Ruin my coffee table for all I care. Please don’t leave over a fucking coaster, Fran.”
I laugh along, wiping away the last few tears. “Okay, yeah, that one is a little stupid.”
“This is the first expensive piece of furniture I’ve ever bought,” he says, gesturing to the table in front of us. “I had to save up for it for a year, and I bought it in this old antique store, feeling all grown-up and shit. It’s a very valuable piece, and I love it. That’s why I want you to use a coaster. That doesn’t have anything to do with you.”
“And the beer?” I ask, happy that he’s smiling again.
“I’ve never been with a girl who drinks beer,” James says, shrugging. “I don’t care what you drink, it just surprises me. As for the drinking and partying… like I said when we just met, I’m a serious guy. You said your usual type is carefree, but that’s not me. I worry about drunk driving, and getting so drunk that you get into a coma. I worry about people taking advantage of you, of you doing something stupid you’d never do if you were sober. Do you have any idea how many drunk people I deal with as a cop?” He shakes his head. “So no, I don’t like excessive drinking. I’m not saying that you can’t drink, or that I want you to stop partying. It’s not something I want to do myself, and it’s the only thing about you that I don’t particularly care for, but that doesn’t mean I like you less for it.”
That makes sense. It’s not like he has to adore every single little thing about me. And he did tell me that it’s okay if I tell him off when he does something I don’t like, so I guess I should just let him know when he makes me feel inferior. He doesn’t do that on purpose.
“Okay,” I say softly. “Your turn. Is there anything else we need to talk about?”
“Yeah,” he says, looking a little embarrassed now. “I know that girls tell each other everything, and that’s fine, you can talk to your friends about me, but could they maybe stop making jokes about my bedazzled dick? It’s bad enough that they know intimate things about me. I don’t like to be mocked, especially not by some guy you used to sleep with.”
“Sorry about Aston. You were so great that night, though.”
“Nah, I shouldn’t have made that snide comment about him and his girlfriend,” James confesses. “I was just fed up with him. And a little jealous, of course, even though I was trying very hard not to be.”
“Aston just bought a house with his pregnant fiancé, so I’m pretty sure you can at least cross him off your list of competitors,” I joke, giving James a peck on the lips.
“What are we going to do about Joshua and Thomas?” James asks, twirling a stand of my hair around his finger. “I’d love to say that I am totally cool with you hanging out with them, but I’m not.”
“Fair enough.” I sigh. “Thomas is my neighbor, so I’m going to see him, but I could ask for my key back if you want me too?”
“No, he takes care of the General,” he reasons. “Who still hates my guts, by the way. Thomas feeding your cat actually helps me spend more time with you, so he can keep your key. I’m actually not all that worried about Thomas. I met the guy, he’s alright. And I honestly don’t see you ending up with him, for some reason. I’m more worried about Joshua.”
It surprises me that James isn’t concerned about me cheating on him with Thomas. It was, after all, Thomas who I slept with right before our second date. Then again, I haven’t had that hard a time being just friends with Thomas. If James and I were to break up there’s no knowing what might happen between us, but as long as I’m with James, I don’t feel worried that I will slip up with Thomas.
Joshua however… I’m not so sure. A week ago I would have laughed at the idea of me kissing Joshua, but now… I have no idea what’s going on there.
“I mostly hang around with Joshua when Yord and Marcia are around, or at least one of them,” I say after a long stretch of silence. “With band practice and stuff. Are you okay with that?”
James nods. “Yeah, of course. Full disclosure though, I don’t like Yord either. He’s always hugging you.”
I laugh. “He’s always hugging everyone. Besides, I’m pretty sure him and Marcia have been flirting lately, so Joshua and I were actually going to see if we could give those two a gentle nudge. Don’t worry about Yord. As for Joshua… I’d like to talk to him about what happened, one on one, if you’re okay with that. He’s been good to me, he deserves an honest conversation as well.”
“Okay,” James agrees with a sigh. “I get that. Just maybe not in his bed.”
“Of course not,” I agree. “I’ll talk to him in the shower.”
James rolls his eyes at my stupid joke, but the mood is lighter already and he even smiles a little. “We really should have talked about this stuff sooner, huh?” he muses. “Guess communication really is the key to having a good relationship.”
I shrug. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been in one before.”
“Let’s make your first one count then, no matter how we may end up,” James decides, pulling me against him. “I really do love you, Franny.”
“I love you too.”