Feisty Francesca

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#70 Missing you already

I pause in front of my front door, trying to keep the tears at bay. I haven’t slept in my own apartment in months, and now I’m moving back in here instead of getting out of my lease and moving my stuff into Joshua’s place. Someone else is moving into his place next week, I had to give back my key, and kiss him goodbye.

He’s gone.

He’s on a plane as we speak, meeting his parents in London so they can show him the apartment he’ll be living in for the next twelve months. It’s an eight-hour flight, and I’ll be making it for the first time in little under a month, but that seems so far away right now. We both insisted that this wasn’t goodbye, just see you later, but it’s breaking my heart anyway.

With a sigh, I unlock my front door and drop my purse and coat on the side table before walking into the living room. To my surprise, my apartment isn’t empty. Shaughna and Thomas are sitting on the couch, sipping their beers, and the General is rubbing against my legs, purring loudly.

“Hey you,” Thomas says, looking up at me with a smile. “We figured you shouldn’t be alone tonight.”

I start crying right away, sobs rocking my body. Shaughna gets up and wraps her arms around me, stroking my hair.

“I know,” she says softly. “I know. Let it all out.”

I sit down on the couch between Thomas and Shaughna, who hug me from either side, giving me all the time I need to calm down.

“I’m being so stupid,” I say, wiping at my eyes angrily. “It’s not like he broke up with me or anything. I’m the one who told him to go, for God’s sake. I should be happy for him.”

“I still can’t believe you did that,” Thomas says, shaking his head. “He wanted to stay for you, and you pretty much kicked him out. That’s so…”

“Sweet,” Shaughna says, giving him a warning look. “Romantic. The right thing to do for sure.”

“Right,” Thomas says, not sounding like he believes it. “Of course. Although… I can’t help but think he could have gotten a job here. What he truly wanted was Franny and to have a music career, right? Why move across the world to be an accountant?”

I grunt. Joshua and I have had this very same conversation a million times the past two months. After that night he made his decision, he tried to go back on it time after time. He kept telling me that he wants me more than he wants to live in London for a year. That he wants everything with me, and that music is something he loves more than accounting anyway, but we both knew he was going to end up leaving no matter what.

Music is great, but like he said a long time ago, music is not a stable thing, and Joshua likes his life easy, stable and planned out. He’s good with numbers, he knows he can do the job his dad has lined up for him, and he’ll make a great CEO one day. “Who needs a plan B with a plan A that’s pretty damn good?” he told me when he explained to me what his future was going to look like when we first started dating. Plan A was always for him to live in England for a while, to get to know his British relatives better and experience his mother’s native country before getting a job and settling down in the States with a girl, get married, and have kids.

I hope that girl will be me, but a year is a long time. I’ve been telling him for two months that we’ll make it, but I don’t know if we will. I want to try, and I hope to God we’ll end up together. We’re just so young, and we’ve only been together for seven months. He’s 22, and while he hates me telling him that he’s too young to know what he wants, I just feel like he might have planned his life out a little too much. Maybe it’s good for him to be on his own for a while, to not make decisions based on me or his parents. He’ll be able to find out if this job at his father’s firm is truly what he wants, and he’ll hopefully keep loving me through it all.

“When are you going to see him again?” Shaughna asks, her arm still firmly around me, squeezing my shoulder.

“In a month,” I say with a sigh. “Just for a long weekend, three days, but at least I’ve got the plane ticket booked already and it’s something to look forward to. I know it’s stupid, but I already miss him. I though I’d be officially living with him right now, after his graduation, and instead…” My voice breaks. “This fucking sucks.”

“It does, but we’re not going to let you wallow,” Thomas insists. “We’re going out tonight. You, me, Shaughna, Dshawn. We’re going to get shit-faced.”

Shaughna nods. “Aston said he’s coming too. He hasn’t been out since the baby was born, and he needs a night of drinking and dancing even more than you do.”

“I doubt that’s possible,” I scoff. It sounds nice to go out and be with friends, though. I used to go dancing all the time, but not so much recently. “I’ll text Yord and Marcia to see if they can join us too. Where are we going?”

“The Palace,” Shaughna says, his whole face lighting up. She and Dshawn opened their club a month ago when all the construction work was done. Only the ground floor with the bar is ready, the other floors are still being finished up, but they’re able to open the club a few nights a week, and they’ve been so busy that I have barely seen them since. I went to the opening with Joshua, of course, and I am beyond impressed with both Shaughna and Dshawn. “I’m working, of course,” she goes on, “but I’ll make sure to sneak out from behind the bar to dance with you.”

“I’m so proud of you.” I pull her against me for a hug. “You and Dshawn are kicking ass. Your club is awesome. When is the restaurant next door opening?”

“In a few weeks.” She’s grinning so much it must be hurting her face. “I managed to convince Michel to leave Giovanni’s and be our chef at The Stable, and he’s creating the men and training his staff, while I work with the interior designer to make sure everything looks just the way I want it to.”

We chat about her new business for a while, and I’m smiling way more than I thought I would on the first night Joshua isn’t here. I feel a little lost without him, but with friends like these, I know I’ll make it through no matter what.

My phone rings as it’s Mr. Chambers. We’ve talked a few times before, mostly because he wanted to keep paying for Joshua’s apartment in the city for me to live in, but I refused. I don’t want his family spending money on me, and I’ve got my own apartment – thank God I didn’t move in with him before this whole London thing, right? Besides, there’s still a chance Josh and I will break up, and I don’t want to be living on his father’s dime if that happens. I love Joshua, but I’m an independent woman. I’ve been providing for myself for eight years now, and I don’t plan to stop now.

“Hi Francesca,” he says in his deep voice, sounding pleasant. “Did Joshua get on the plane okay?”

“Yeah,” I say, feeling a little guilty for not calling him myself. “He got on two hours ago. The plane left on time, so he’ll be there in two hours.”

“Great.” He pauses, and he sounds almost emotional when he starts talking again. “Thank you, Francesca. Thank you for helping my son finally make a decision that’s based on nothing but what he wants for himself. For not allowing him to stay.”

“You’re welcome,” I say, not knowing how to feel about this. It’s great that Mr. and Mrs. Chambers approve of me, but I didn’t do this for them. I did this for Joshua. Which is, of course, exactly why they approve of me. I feel like they’d like me less if they knew just how much I secretly wish that Joshua would have stayed anyway.

“I know he loves you, and you love him,” he goes on. “If you ever need anything, let me know, okay? Another plane ticket to see him, money for rent, a better phone to videocall him… I’ll be happy to help out with anything you need. Me and my wife are very happy he found someone like you. If he had stayed with Jasmine, he wouldn’t be in London right now.”

“Thanks.” I’m on the verge of crying again, and I don’t want that. I want to go out, get drunk, and forget about everything. “I’ll be fine. Thanks for the plane tickets, that’s really nice of you.”

“It’s the least I can do.” He grunts and mutters something to someone else, his voice muffled. “Sorry, Francesca, I need to go. Someone fucked up a client meeting earlier today and I need to do some serious damage control. Call me if you need anything, okay?”

“I will.” I hang up and take a deep breath, pushing back the tears.

“Jesus Christ, woman,” Thomas teases, nudging me with a grin. “Are all these tears for Joshie boy, or are you on your period or something?”

I roll my eyes and laugh. “I’ve got an IUD, remember? I barely ever get periods anymore. Haven’t had a real one since I got it put in five years ago.”

“Lucky you,” Shaughna grumbles. She’s got an IUD too, but she sometimes bleeds for a week without warning. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, all she can do is curl up in bed and have Dshawn take care of her. She had one a little while ago, in the midst of getting the club up and running, and she was insufferable for the entire seven days. Poor Dshawn.

“Enough talk about bleeding,” Thomas decides. “Get dressed in something slutty, we’re going dancing.”

I laugh and make my way to the bathroom to do my hair and make-up, and I slip into a dark purple dress that hugs my every curve. I text Joshua a picture, even though I know he won’t get it until he’s in London.

Missing you already, I type below the picture. Going to The Palace with some friends. Hope your flight was okay. I love you. I hesitate, but then I pull my dress down a little further and snap another picture, making sure my cleavage is on full display. The girls miss you too, I say. Can’t wait to have you back in my arms in a month.

When I get back to the living room, Thomas is dancing with the General to a song Shaughna is playing on my guitar. Or well, it’s a little generous to call it a song. It’s more like she’s attacking the strings like a madwoman, making the poor thing wail.

“Very nice,” Thomas says when he sees, me his eyes on my breasts. “Very slutty.”

I curse when I realize I didn’t pull the top back up after snapping the picture for Joshua, and I adjust my dress so less of me is on show. Thomas winks and puts the General down, grabbing his keys and phone from the coffee table.

“Let’s go!” Shaughna exclaims, putting my guitar down. She links her arm with me and makes a shrill sound of excitement. “Oh my God, we’re going to my club. It’s still so weird to think about. I own my own business. I’m such a grown-up.”

Thomas and I both crack up at that. If anyone isn’t a mature grown-up, it’s Shaughna, and that’s why we love her so much. She’s a force of nature, but she’s also a childish little slut, and she knows it.

“Don’t laugh at me,” she bites out, not really mad. “I’ve got the power to either give you free booze or cut you off completely, so you’d better start buttering my up.”

“Oh beautiful queen Shaughna, I kiss the ground you walk on,” Thomas says, dropping his knees and actually kissing the floor. “Ew!” He wrinkles his nose. “Fran, when is the last time you vacuumed?”

I shrug. “No idea. Two months ago? Three? I haven’t really been living here for seven months, after all.”

“Ew.” He wiped his mouth and gets back up. “Okay, I’ve probably got some horrible disease now that will kill me before the night is over, so I guess we should make tonight count. I’m going to need at least twenty shots of expensive liquor to disinfect my poor tongue and give myself a fighting chance of surviving the germs on your floor.”

I give him a playful shove and laugh, happy that I’ve still got him as one of my best friends. With Joshua gone, I need him more than ever, and it’s so good to know he’s here for me. I can’t wait to go out and dance the night way. I need this.

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