#39 The ice queen is melting
I’m nervous when dinnertime is creeping closer. I invited Peter over, deciding I’d start with the homework assignment from Dr. York right away. I will tell Peter something that scares me tonight, and tomorrow, I will talk to Thomas. He’s got Franny’s wedding today, and I don’t want to take attention away from that, so tomorrow will work just fine. He doesn’t know yet, but I’m planning on laying all my cards on the table and take things from there. I was wrong to shut him out before, and I don’t know for sure anything happened with Debby. I may have jumped to conclusions. I sure hope so. And even if not, I’d like to hear it from him, and understand why he’d sleep with her right after telling me he still wanted me.
Tonight, it’s time for Peter. I choose him, because he’s the only fatherlike-figure I’ve got in my life, and I have a feeling he is lonely. He keeps going on dates, but they never amount to anything, and he told me the other day that he’s ready to give up altogether and accept that he missed his window to find someone, and that he might have to accept that he’s going to be alone for the rest of his life.
I think we could both use someone to talk to, and there’s something comforting about having someone like him, who is around the age my dad would be if he were still alive. Dad would be only a few years older.
“I brought wine!” Peter says, holding up a bottle of my favorite chardonnay as I open the door. “I don’t know squat about wine, so I’m not sure how it will pair with the food, but it’s got alcohol in it.”
I laugh. “And that’s obviously the most important thing about wine. Come in, Peter.”
He shrugs off his coat and follows me into the living room. He’s never been in my apartment, and he looks around in wonder, smiling when Pumpkin and Snoopy rush over to him, sniffing him before deciding he’s alright. Oyster trots over more tentatively, looking up at him with wide eyes.
“Hey, who is this little cutie?” Peter says, scooping her up and petting her gently. “I thought you only had one cat?”
“That’s Oyster, Michel’s cat. I had coffee with him the other day and he confessed he only got a cat because of me, because he knows I love animals, and when I told him how much I miss little stubborn Oyster, he dropped her off here with all her stuff, so she’s mine now.”
Peter smiles and drops Oyster back on the floor when she starts squirming. “That’s pretty sweet of him. But… you’re not getting back together with him, are you?”
“Don’t worry,” I assure him. “Michel and I are never ever getting back together. Not in a million years. We’re not even friends anymore. We only met up for closure.”
“Good.” Peter takes the wine glasses from me and fills them up before putting the half-empty bottle in my fridge. “I always liked the guy, but he wasn’t right for you. I’ve been so worried about you these past months, Tracy.”
“I know,” I say, feeling horrible for worrying him. “I’m okay now, though. I’ve been seeing a therapist three times a week the past two months.”
“Oh wow.” Peter sits down at the table and looks at me with pride in his eyes. “That’s great. I know how hard that must have been for you, to take that step. Is it helping?”
“Yeah, I feel like I’m finally seeing all the fucked-up coping mechanisms I’ve got going on. And let me tell you, there are a lot of them.” I laugh and put on my oven mitts to take the dish out of the oven and put it on the pan coaster in the middle of the table. “Hope you like lasagna.”
“Hmm, it smells delicious.”
We talk about work for a while, enjoying our dinner, and it’s nice to talk to him outside of work. He’s such a good guy, and I can tell he’s truly proud of me getting my act together – well, starting to, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I’m still a piece of work – and it feels good to have someone tell me that they think I’m doing a good job of working on myself. It’s almost like my Uncle Greg is here, since Peter is a lot like him.
“Next week is the anniversary of my parents’ death,” I blurt out after my last bite, looking down at my empty plate.
“I know,” Peter says, reaching out to take my hand in his.
“It’s a really hard week for me, because I’m scared to cry,” I admit, grabbing my wine and gulping down half of it. “I’m scared that if I start crying, I will never be able to stop.”
Peter doesn’t say anything. He just listens, his thumb stroking the back of my hand.
“This year, I want to do things differently. I’m not sure how I’m gonna feel about it when the day comes, but I think I shouldn’t try to get through that week on my own. My birthday is two days before my mother died, and I haven’t celebrated my birthday since Dad died. Do you…” I take a deep breath and look up at Peter. “I thought maybe you and Delilah could come over for dinner. I’ll probably be in a real shitty mood all day long, so I get it if you don’t want to, but I thought maybe-”
“Nothing would make me happier than to be there for you on your birthday,” Peter says, tears in his eyes. “You’re like family to me, Tracy. You and Delilah… Both of you are special to me, but since you don’t have parents, and I don’t have kids, you’ve felt like the closest person to me for a long time now, even though you don’t let anyone close enough to actually see how much we all care about you. I’m so proud of you for finally opening up, honey.”
Oh damn. I tear up, and right before I start shoving my feelings deep down, I decide not to. Maybe it’s time to let them out. A few tears spill out, and Peter gets up from his chair and he wraps his big arms around me, holding me close while I cry.
I haven’t truly cried in years. There have been a few times I couldn’t choke back the tears after sex with Michel, but I always hated that, and never truly gave into the urge. Now, I’m letting them flow freely, and it’s strangely liberating to finally break down.
“Oh Tracy,” Peter murmurs, stroking my hair. “You don’t have to be so strong all the time. You’re such a fighter, but sometimes it’s okay to let someone comfort you.”
It takes long time before my tears stop flowing, and even longer for me to be able to stop sniffling, but I do stop. I cried. I broke down. And it stopped. I didn’t keep crying.
“Thank you,” I tell Peter, slowly pulling away from him. “I haven’t cried like that… well, ever.”
“Anytime,” he says, smiling kindly. “You said you were scared you’d never stop, right? Well, look at you now. Your face is all red and your eyes are puffy, but you’re not crying anymore. Isn’t that something?”
I smile and get up to wash my face. He’s right, it really is something. It’s a big fucking deal.
Time for assignment number two. Around lunchtime, I sneak into Thomas’ apartment building when someone walks out. I’ve got his favorite sandwiches with me, and his usual coffee order. This will be fucking hard, but I’m going to do it. If there is anyone who deserves me to finally open up, it’s him.
When I get to his front door, I take a deep breath and knock. It takes a long time before the door swings open, revealing Thomas in worn blue jeans, his muscular tattooed chest bare.
“Hey!” he says, looking surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“I was hoping we could talk,” I say, handing him one of the cups of coffee. “Do you have a time to have lunch with me?”
“Yeah, erm, sure.” He looks a little uncomfortable. “I’ve got company, though.”
“Since when does Dylan count as company?” I ask with a smile.
“Thomas!” a girl’s voice yells from the living room. “I think I broke your computer! I pressed F6 and now the website is flipping the fuck out!”
He’s with a girl. With his shirt off. And the computer on.
I feel all the blood drain from my face. That’s why he’s uncomfortable. Is he getting it on with someone new? Watching porn with someone who isn’t me?
“Come on in,” Thom says, motioning for me to close the door behind me. He leads me to the living room, where he created a home office out of his huge fold-out bookcase. There’s a girl in his desk chair, wearing a tiny little black dress clinging to her fit body.
Oh my God. I know her. That’s Mila Philips, porn star.
Thomas is half-naked, hanging out with a porn star whose movies we’ve seen together. I’ve watched her get fucked by three huge guys, while Thomas was between my legs, eating me out.
Did I die? Am I in hell? Or heaven, maybe?
“This is Mila,” Thomas says, motioning to the girl. “She’s moving into Franny’s apartment in two weeks. Mila, this is Tracy, my… friend.”
Mila gets up, her huge fake tits not even bouncing a little as she makes her way over to me. She’s barefoot, looking extremely comfortable in Thomas’ apartment. She laughs when she sees my expression.
“I take it I don’t need to tell you what I do for a living?” she says, winking at me. “It’s not often that I get recognized by girls, to be honest. And it took Thomas a lot longer before he realized who I was.”
“I-I d-don’t…” I trail off, not sure what to say. “Erm… hi.”
“Hi,” she says, still smiling. “Thomas is helping me make a website so I don’t have to pay some asshole twenty percent of my profits anymore. He’s so generous.”
“Yes,” I say, sounding breathless. In my head, I’m replaying every single position I’ve seen her in. I’ve pretended I was her so many times, coming all over Thomas face while her moans filled this very living room. “Nice to m-meet you.”
“Glad to see I’m not the only one who didn’t know what the fuck to say when I realized who I was talking to,” Thomas says, grinning. “I’m gonna put on a shirt real quick. Be right back.”
As he steps into his bedroom, Mila keeps her gaze on me. “He spilled coffee all over himself right before the doorbell rang,” she explains. “We weren’t getting it on or anything.”
“Oh, I didn’t think… I mean, he can if he wants to…” I sound fucking pathetic.
“You’re Tracy, right?” she says, looking at me knowingly. “I don’t think you mean that, girl. You don’t want him to get it on with anyone but you, do you?”
She grins. “The guy talks about you all the damn time. I’ve known him for two days now, and I already know that he’s madly in love with you.”
My cheeks heat up, but I can’t keep a smile off my face. So he isn’t fucking someone else after all.
“What are you girls talking about?” Thomas ask as he walks back in, now wearing a white T-shirt with a wide V-neck that shows off his tattoos. He looks so cute with his blonde hair a complete mess, pulling his hand through it.
“I’m gonna take off,” Mila says, throwing me a wink.
“We still need to talk about some stuff for the website,” Thomas says, frowning. “I though we were gonna have lunch together.”
“Tracy brought you lunch,” Mila says, nodding at the brown bag in my hands. “I’ve got your number, so I’ll text you so meet up soon. No way am I letting you out of our agreement. That website is going to be amazing. You’re a lifesaver.” She pulls on her black heels and grabs her purse. “I had a lot of fun with you, Thomas.” Her eyes go back to me and she gives me a knowing look. “Nice to meet you, Tracy. Be good to this guy here. Guys like him are pretty rare.”
“Oh, I know,” I assure her. I like this girl. She may be talking Thomas up right now, but it doesn’t feel like she’s hitting on him. If anything, she’s pushing us together, even though she’s only met me a few minutes ago and she’s known Thomas since yesterday.
Mila waves goodbye and walks out, her hips swaying. Both me and Thomas watch her go, and when we look back at each other, I know I’m wearing the same sheepish grin he is.
“So… your new neighbor is a porn star,” I say, sitting down on his couch and unpacking the sandwiches. “That’s… different.”
“Yeah, but she’s so chill you forget about it after a while.”
I shoot him a knowing look. “Really?”
“No,” he admits, laughing, “I think of the you and me fucking while she’s getting pounded on the TV screen every five minutes or so. It’s really fucking weird, but Mila is truly is chill girl. I hate that Franny is leaving, but I can get used to Mila living here.” He is still standing, like he’s not sure if he can sit down next to me, so I pat the seat next to me. I hate how unsure I’ve made him. Things didn’t use to be like this.
“What did you want to talk to me about?” he asks, sitting down and taking a sip of the coffee I brought him. “Hmm, you remembered my order,” he says, smiling.
“I remember every single thing you’ve ever done or said,” I admit softly. It’s the truth. I do. “I’m here because… well, because my therapist said something the other day that got me thinking, and I think I deserve you a real conversation, about… us.”
“Really?” His whole face lights up and he angles his body towards me. “You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that, Tracy.”
I’ve got so many questions for him, about Debby, and about whether or not he was truly waiting for me, and if he’s mad at me for holding him at arm’s length for so long, but as I look into his bright blue eyes, I realize it doesn’t matter. Even if he slept with Debby or someone else, that wouldn’t change how I feel about him. Even if it turns out he doesn’t want me anymore, I’ll still want to be with him. I’m ready to fight for him if I need to.
“What did your therapist say?” Thomas asks when I don’t speak up.
“She said…” Okay, here we go. “She said that I’m in love with you, and that fear isn’t a good enough reason to keep running away from you.”
Thomas’ eyes widen and his mouth drops open.
“She’s right,” I go on, my hands shaking from how nervous I am to put it all out there. “I’m in love with you, Thomas.”