#35 Mixing business with pleasure
I keep repeating to myself that I can do this. There is no reason to run or hide. I’m a strong woman, and I’ve been through much worse than this. Normally, I would shove my panic down, but this time I find a place to be alone – a small room inside of the mansion – and I lean against the wall, breathing hard, letting all the emotions wash over me. I’m not ready to let anyone see me like this, not even Thomas, but I’m at the point where I am starting to feel like it’s okay to feel things when I’m alone. I even got close to crying a few days ago, when I found a necklace Michel gave me, and all the good memories washed over me, reminding me that I lost a big part of myself when I ended things with him.
Breaking up with Michel was the best decision for both of us, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. I hated being around him while we were still together, but now that he’s been gone for a month, I am starting to remember all the good things about him, before we turned each other into the worst versions of ourselves. He’s a good guy. He tried so goddamn hard to be what I needed, changed himself for me, just like I tried to change myself for him. It was all wrong, but we tried. We loved each other, and I think a part of me will always love him, but it wasn’t enough.
This time, the break-up will stick. I know it will. It’s got to. Part of me wants to do the same thing I did last time – find myself a rebound to fuck Michel out of my system – but I know that would be a mistake. The only person I want right now is Thomas, but he deserves more than to be my rebound. If we ever have sex again, I want it to mean something. I want to be ready for it, because I know he still wants to be with me, and I think I might want that too. I’m not sure if we’d be right for each other, but I know I want to see what could be.
Not now, though. Not yet. I’ve still got so much crap to work through. I’ve got therapy three times a week, which is a lot, but I’m eager to work on myself. James had me come with him to one of his appointments so I could meet his therapist, and she felt like a good fit for me too, so I’ve been seeing her ever since. It’s hard to talk about everything that’s happened in my life, losing my parents, the shitty way I coped with it, the nightmares… But it’s good, in a weird way. I feel a little lighter. And I get why people go to therapy now. It’s easier to talk to someone who’s not your friend, who doesn’t give you advice or tries to hug you or something. Dr. York just listens, nods, takes notes, and she asks me to explain my feelings to her, accepting it when I can’t or won’t. She pushed me sometimes, but she seems to sense when to back off and put a pin in something until our next appointment. That makes me want to open up more than I did with Michel, who was always pleading for me to tell him what was going on in my mind.
He’s here. I know I’ve got three options. One: leave this wedding so I won’t have to see him. Two: go back outside and be on edge the whole damn day, waiting until we eventually run into each other. Three: face this head-on and find him myself, so I can see him on my own terms.
I’m going with option three, which is very unlike me. The old Tracy would have gone with option one or two. No, actually, she’d have picked option four: pretend nothing is going on and smile through it all without even acknowledging that I’m scared of what seeing Michel again will do to me.
“Come on, Tracy,” I mumble to myself, pushing off the wall and pulling my hair out of my ponytail, letting it flow freely down my back. “You can do this.”
It’s easy to find the kitchen, since there are waiters walking back and forth the whole time. I follow one of them into the kitchen, looking around until I find Michel, looking stressed and flustered, talking to Vicky while gesturing wildly, motioning to the wedding cake in the corner.
“This is a disaster,” Vicky exclaims, pulling at her hair. “We need to let Aston and Annabel know. Oh God, she will freak.”
I look at the cake and see absolutely nothing wrong with it, except for the fact that on top of it, there are two grooms, instead of a groom and a bride. They got the figurines wrong. I laugh, which causes Vicky and Michel to look at me. His eyes go wide, and he freezes.
“Hey,” I say, smiling. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be to see him. “I heard you were the caterer, and I thought I might as well come over to say hi.”
“Hi,” he breathes, looking spooked. “You look… God, Tracy, you look beautiful.”
“Thanks.” I gesture at his apron covered in sauce. “Which I could say the same about you.”
He grins, relaxing a little. “Geez, thanks. Always nice to be told I look like shit.”
“Hello!” Vicky shouts, throwing her hand in the air. “Crisis over here! Aston and Annabel are doing their first dance right now, and it will be time to cut the cake in thirty minutes. What are we going to do?”
I can tell Michel is overwhelmed. He’s been a chef and a caterer for years now, but he’s never done a wedding of this size before. I used to come with him when he catered parties, back when we were still madly in love and not fighting all the time. It’s been years since I helped him out in the kitchen, but I remember how stressed and overwhelmed he can get sometimes.
“Can’t you just make a heart out of chocolate or marzipan?” I ask him. “Aston and Annabel aren’t uptight people, you know. I’m sure they will live if there are no figurines on top. Just make something to replace it, and it’ll be fine.”
“She told us everything has to be perfect,” Vicky says, still looking freaked. “Debby and I have never planned a wedding like this, and we’re hoping to get many more clients like Aston and Annabel. If we fuck this up, we’re done.”
“You’re not done,” I assure her, moving over to take the two grooms off the cake and tossing them aside. “Your launch party was huge, remember? You’ve got the new website, three different apps, and a lot of happy clients. You’re doing great. And yeah, Annabel may want a perfect wedding, but her groom started the day off by calling her a hot cougar in the church, so I doubt her standards are as high as you think they are. How about I go tell them?”
“Okay,” Vicky agrees, nodding. She turns to Michel with a pleading look in her eyes. “Please tell me you can make a new cake topper.”
“Of course,” Michel says, back in control. “I’ve got a chocolate heart in here somewhere. It was meant for the cupcake display, but no one will miss it if it’s not there. It will look great on the wedding cake.” He smiles at me and reaches out to touch my arm, squeezing gently. “It’s so good to see you again, Tracy. I’m sorry about… about everything. I need to get back to work right now, but maybe we can grab a cup of coffee soon, to catch up?”
“Sure,” I agree, hoping that he wants to gain some closure and not ask me to get back together. I could use some closure myself, to be honest. “I’ll text you. Good luck today.”
“Thanks.” He gives my arm one last squeeze and then he’s back to telling his staff what needs to be done.
I wave goodbye and leave the kitchen, a little surprised at how well that went. I go outside to see that Aston and Annabel just got off the dancefloor and are talking to some family members. I walk over and pull them to the side for a moment, explaining the mix-up with the cake.
Annabel laughs, leaning against Aston with a happy expression on her pretty face. “Tell Vicky that it’s no big deal. She and Debby planned this whole wedding perfectly. It’s wonderful. I didn’t even know that there were going to be figurines on top of the cake. I wouldn’t have noticed that they were replaced by a heart. In fact, I think I like the heart more.”
“She’ll be really happy to hear that. By the way, you’re the prettiest bride ever.”
Aston grunts in agreement, squeezing her ass. “She looks hot as fuck indeed.”
Annabel swats his hand away, but she’s smiling when he puts it right back on her ass. They kiss, and I can’t help but look at them with a huge smile on my face. That’s the kind love everyone should have in their lives. Aston’s mother walks over with their daughter Steffi in her arms, and Aston picks her up, throwing the 1-year-old in the air to make her squeal. Annabel shakes her head and tells him to be careful.
I leave them be, trying to see where Vicky is right now. I spot her long blonde hair and slender frame on the other end of the garden, and I recognize the guy walking with her to a secluded place behind some trees right away. Thomas.
Why the hell is Thomas with Vicky, disappearing behind a bunch of tall trees where no one can see them?
I walk over right away, not able to help myself. I know it’s bad, but I need to know if everything he said to me is true. Has he really not been with anyone since our threesome six months ago? Is he truly prepared to wait for me to be ready for more than friendship? Of is he sneaking off to get his dick sucked by one of the twins right now?
Part of me knows he’s not like that, but I can’t shake the feeling that something is going on. I hide behind a tree, making sure they don’t see me, while still allowing me to listen to their conversation.
“I’m sorry for firing you,” I hear Vicky saying, her voice tight. “I was just… Well, you know.”
“I do,” Thomas replies, sounding kind. “No hard feelings. We never should have mixed business with pleasure anyway. That’s on me as well.”
Mixed business with pleasure? Did he sleep with her? When? Why?
“Did you tell anyone…” Vicky trails off, sounding scared.
“No, Debby, I wouldn’t do that,” Thomas replies.
Oh, it’s not Vicky. It’s the other twin. I’ve always been able to tell twins apart, call it a gift if you want, but I guess that even I can’t be expected to recognize her from across the garden, seeing her from the back.
“You must be so disgusted by me,” Debby says, sounding like she’s crying. “I’ve been so fucked up over that night. I was so drunk. You’re the only one that knows.”
“Debby…” Thomas sounds kind and warm, and I bet he’s comforting her right now. He can’t look at a crying woman without trying to make her feel better. I know him well enough to know that. “I’m not gonna lie, I was a little… surprised, but hey, you don’t choose who you’re attracted to, right? I’m sorry if I made you feel bad that night. I was an asshole. In my defense, I was drunk as well, and going through some stuff.”
“I’m so fucked up,” Debby whimpers, full on blubbering now. “I can’t get off without thinking about her, you know. That night with you was the last time I had sex at all. I used to have one-night stands all the time, but I feel so dirty since that night I went home with you. The look on your face when you found out… Oh God, it haunts me.”
What are they talking about? Is she gay or something? She did say her, right? I can’t imagine Thomas being disgusted by her for being into girls. We’re talking about Thom here. The guy who has had threesomes, who whispered dirty things in my ear about me having dicks shoves in all my holes, who kicked his own mother out of his apartment because she made his best friend feel bad for being bisexual. Why would he ever make a girl feel bad about being gay?
“I’m sorry,” Thomas says softly, and I can tell he means it. “I’m sorry I made you feel bad. I was just… a little shocked, I guess.”
“I’m so horny all the time,” Debby says, her voice sultry now, and my heart clenches when I think about her standing there with Thomas’ arms around her while he tries to comfort her. “All. The. Time. Do you think… I mean, you know. You already know.”
I hear Thomas grunt, and it’s all I can do to stay where I am and not jump out from behind the tree to see what’s going on.
“Debby, no, I’m sorry, but we can’t-”
“Sure we can,” she says in a seductive voice. “You’re already hard for me, Thomas.”
I feel sick. Is she grinding against him right now? Are they kissing? Is he already taking off his pants, ready to bury himself in her? I told him not to wait for me, that I can’t ask him to do that for me, but I didn’t mean go ahead and fuck the next girl you see. What I meant was… well, what I meant was that I’d love for him to wait for me, but that I know that would be selfish, so I couldn’t say it out loud. Still, I prayed he would, that he’d still want to take me out on a date when I finally get my shit together.
Did he even mean it? Or is this what waiting looks like for him? Fucking other girls at weddings so he can satisfy his urges without me?
“You know you want to,” Debby says, moaning softly. “Don’t fight it, Thomas. You’re so fucking hard. I want to feel you inside of me.”
Shaking with rage and sadness, I turn away and walk away as quietly as I can.
Was he ever truly serious about me? I know I don’t have a right to be mad, and I don’t have a claim on him, but he told me he wanted me. He told me he would wait. That he misses me. He didn’t have to tell me any of those things. It would have been perfectly fine if he’d told me that he doesn’t want to keep waiting for me, and that he’s going to date other people. That would have hurt, but I’d have accepted it. I’d have understood.
This… this I don’t understand. How can he look at me like he still loves me one moment, and sneak off to fuck Debby the next? I just got out of a fucked-up relationship. I don’t need this shit. I’m gonna continue to work on myself, but when I’m finally okay and ready to put myself back out there, I will just get on one of the dating apps and find myself someone new. I refuse to get into something new with Thomas when he obviously doesn’t know how to keep his dick in check.