Dreamy Dylan

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#44 Who was going to arrest me?

Finding an apartment is impossible. They’re all just so… tiny. None of them have a yard, and I find myself longing for one. My relationship with Kian might have ended in disaster, and his house never felt like home, but damn it was a nice house. Big, with lots of rooms, a large yard… It’s hard going back to a one-bedroom apartment. Even a two-bedroom apartment feels tiny to me.

“It’s impossible,” I tell Shaughna when she hands me a beer. “Completely impossible.”

It’s Wednesday night and the club is officially closed, but all my friends are here at the karaoke bar because Shaughna and Dshawn are celebrating their anniversary. Pretty much everyone is already drunk, or at least tipsy. Caroline is belting out a Britney song, with Dshawn backing her up. It sounds awful. He can sing, but she definitely can’t.

“Impossible?” Shaughna repeats, sipping her cocktail. “But you’re like… rich! Just buy a house!”

I roll my eyes at her. “I’m not rich. I make a good living, sure, but I am far from rich, Shaughna.”

“Still, you could buy a house,” she insists. “Or a penthouse or something.”

Before living with Kian, I would have loved a penthouse in the middle of the city. I thought I needed the hustle and bustle of the city around me, but I honestly didn’t miss it while living in the suburbs. I can still go into town when I want to go out, but it was nice to have a yard and lots of space around me.

Good God, am I really contemplating moving to the fucking suburbs?

“Maybe I could rent a house,” I say vaguely.

“Nathan!” Shaughna shouts all of a sudden. “Nathan! Get your old butt over here!”

The tall guy who is indeed one of the oldest people here tonight – that’s what happens when you marry a woman seventeen years younger, I guess – heads over to us. He clinks his beer against mine in greeting. “Hey man, it’s been a while.”

“Hi Nate.” I look over at Shaughna. “Why exactly did we need Nathan for this? Not that I mind talking to him, but I’m curious why you shouted for him.”

“Nate here is a realtor,” she reminds me. “He’s in town for a few days since Caroline’s dad is celebrating his birthday and they’re staying with him and Magda. So I thought he could help you with your housing crisis.”

Nathan immediately looks interested, his green eyes sparkling when he turns his full attention to me. “Housing crisis? Do tell.”

“I’m looking for a place to rent, but you really don’t have to spend your free time helping me find a place.” I’d feel bad making him feel obliged to help me out. I can figure this out by myself. “I’ve got three more apartments to look at this week.”

“Rent or buy?” Nathan leans his elbows on the table. “The economy is really good to buy these days. Low interest rates for mortgages, no need to overbid on a house… Or an apartment, of course.”

“Maybe a house,” I admit, allowing myself to picture the kind of place I’d like to live in. “I lived in an apartment before, one I started renting straight out of college. One bedroom, nothing fancy. I was fine there, but I gave it up to move in with my boyfriend.”

Nathan grimaces. “And now you’re looking for something new, so I take it he’s your ex now?”

“You got that right. Cheating bastard.” I still feel bitter over the way Kian treated me when we met up last week. Fucking hell, that guy is an ass. I wish I could stop thinking about him altogether, but it’s a little harder than I thought to let go of him. Not because I want him back, and not even because I still love him. I don’t think I do, actually. What I’m stuck on is that he managed to lie to me for so long, and I had no idea he was into someone else. What does it say about me that I can be deceived so easily? And that I’m apparently completely replaceable?

“You don’t have to tell me,” he says, but he doesn’t seem to want to dwell on that thought. Probably his ex-wife. I don’t know Nate and Caroline well enough to have the full story, but I know enough. His relationship with his ex was far from good. The only good thing that came out of it was his daughter Rose, who is the craziest kid I’ve ever met. She’s insane in the best way. I bet if I have a kid one day it would be one like Rose Storm.

“So, you’re saying buy?” I ask Nathan. “Not rent?”

He shrugs. “Nothing wrong with renting. I just think when you reach a certain age, and the economy is good, and you know you want to stay in a certain town… Why not buy a place? Gives you way more options.” He eyes me. “How old are you? Early thirties, right?”

“33, and yeah, I do want to stay in this town, but buying a house on my own…” I shudder. “It just sounds so… sad.”

“What’s sad about wanting a place you feel at home? Building something just for you? Besides, you won’t stay alone forever. I bought my house after my divorce, and now it’s filled with kids, and I’ve got Caroline falling asleep next to me every single night.” He looks so damn happy when he talks about his family. “The question is… what can you afford? Do you have the funds to buy a house? Can you get a mortgage? How’s your credit score?”

This is a pretty intense conversation to have after midnight, with a guy I don’t know that well, when I’m already six beers in. “You want me to show you my financial statements? In a club? While drinking beer?”

Nathan laughs. “Fair enough. Tomorrow over coffee then? Like Shaughna said, I’m in town for a couple of days. I’d gladly help you out.”

“You’ve got your father-in-law’s birthday,” I remind him. “Plus you’ve got kids.”

“Rose is with her mother back home, and Ash and Daisy are taken care of by their very excited grandparents. I love Neil and Magda, but I truly wouldn’t mind getting out of that house for a couple of hours. I’ve worked in this area before, you know. Sean – my best friend and my boss – has a small firm here too. He expanded his business a couple of years ago, and I helped set things up here since I know the area well, thanks to Caroline. I’d be happy to help, Dylan. Really.”

I might be the beer talking, or his sincere expression, but I find myself agreeing to meet up for coffee the next day. Can’t hurt, right? Nate gets sidetracked soon after when Caroline pulls him to the dancefloor and starts kissing him like they haven’t been married a gazillion years already and are just a couple of horny people in a club, looking to hook up.

“Lucky man, right?” Aston says, popping up next me. Unlike everyone else, he’s still on his first beer. The guy doesn’t drink much these days.

“Lucky man,” I agree. “So are you, by the way.” I nod in Annabel’s direction. “She looks amazing in that red dress.”

“I know, right?” He lets out a low growl. “Okay, I need to go take that off her now. See ya.”

Seriously, how those two ever got together… She looks all pristine in her dress, that is sexy but not at all provocative, not showing off cleavage or anything. She could go to court for work in that dress if she wanted to. It’s more professional than sexy, but she does look amazing in it. Aston just walks up to her, grabs her ass, whispers something in her ear, and has her follow him into a back room, where I’m pretty sure he’ll be fucking her up against the wall in about five seconds. If I wasn’t so used to them by now, I wouldn’t believe they were married. Looking at them, you wouldn’t think they’d work so well together, yet they do.

I thought Kian and I could be like that, but he didn’t even want to try and accept me the way Annabel accepts Aston. That’s true love. Kian and I… was it even really love? I’m starting to seriously doubt that. I know I truly loved him, but I don’t think he loved me. Not the way he should have.

“Why do you look so sad?” Mila asks, putting an arm around me when she joins me at my table.

“It’s nothing, just… stuff.” I finish off my beer. “Let’s sign up to do a song, shall we? I could use a distraction.”

I didn’t invite Andre tonight, and since he’s not friends with Shaughna and Dshawn, he wasn’t invited by them. I know they wouldn’t have minded me bringing him at all, but I’m having a bad day. I’ve been having bad days ever since Kian and I met up at the coffee shop. Andre and I still see each other every single day, and there have been a few stolen kisses, but I am starting to realize that he was right when he said I need to work through this breakup before we can start something real. I hate that Kian still has a hold on me. I’d love to move on without a second thought, but that’s proving to be harder than I expected.

“Let’s do a song,” Mila agrees, grabbing her phone to sign us up.

I notice she’s using her left hand to hold her phone, which is very unlike her. My eyes drift to her other hand, and I gasp when I see why she’s suddenly a lefty. It’s bruised all over, and it looks both fresh and painful. “What happened?”

She grimaces when I take her hand in mine to examine it. “Nothing.”

“This is not nothing!” It looks beyond painful. “Who did this to you?”

“No one.” Her eyes dart away from me before meeting my gaze head-on. “I hit someone earlier tonight.”

“You got into a fight?”

“Not a fight. He didn’t hit back. I accidentally hit the wall at one point.”

She’s not saying who it was, which tells me all I need to know. “You ran into Kian.”

“Yeah,” she grunts, her eyes shooting fire. “Scar and I went out to that gay bar where we had our first date. We wanted to have a cocktail before coming here, and the bastard had the nerve to show up with Silas, Kyle, and Chase in tow. A fucking gay bar! Idiot wouldn’t even kiss you in public, and now he’s going to gay bars?”

Every time I think I can’t feel more betrayed by Kian, he proves me wrong. He never went to a gay bar with me. He wouldn’t even go out to a normal club with me. “You shouldn’t have hit him. You could have gotten into trouble.”

Mila scoffs. “Please. Who was going to arrest me? James? William? Elijah? They’d sooner hold Kian down while I pummel him than throw my ass in jail for hitting that asshole. I just lost it when I saw him holding hands with Silas. How dare he do that to you? It’s one thing to fall in love with someone else, but he cheated on you, and now he’s doing things with that slimeball. Things you’d have loved to do with him. I know you told everyone not to beat him up, but I couldn’t just stand there and do nothing.”

God, I love this woman. No, she’s not always the sweetest person alive. She can be a bit of a cunt, and she’s better at dealing out tough love than holding your hand. But damn hitting Kian is definitely having my back. I know I said I didn’t want anyone to hurt him, but maybe I changed my mind about that.

“Please tell me you gave him a black eye,” I plead.

“Black eye, bruised ribs, and his dick will never be the same after I kneed him in the groin. I should have stopped there, but I wanted to do his other eye too.” She holds up her bruised hand. “That’s how this happened. Silas grabbed him and got him out of the way before I could change my direction, and I crashed into the wall.”

“You should have given Silas a black eye instead,” I grunt.

“Oh, Scar took care of that for me. She’s got one hell of a right hook.” Mila grins. “She’s not as strong as I am, but damn that girl knows how to pack a punch. They now have matching black eyes. Very fashionable.”

That makes me laugh. I hug Mila tightly, feeling grateful for this show of support that I didn’t even know I needed. “Thank you.”

She pats me on the back with her good hand. “I’ll fuck up anyone who hurts you, Dylan. You know that. If you want me to go back in for a second round, I will.”

“I think one round was enough.” I still hold onto her, feeling a little emotional.

“Hey…” Mila pulls me closer. “It’s okay. I know it’s tough. Trust me, I know terrible breakups. And yours was brutal. You’ll be okay, though.”

I know I will be, thanks to my friends. Once I find a new place to live, I think it’ll be easier to move on for real. Each night I go back to Thomas and Tracy’s house, it reminds me of what happened with Kian, and I am so ready to have my own place again. I love them and their kids, and they’re sweet for letting me stay with them, but I’m used to having my own space, and I feel like I’m imposing on their lives too much sometimes. Some nights, I can seriously hear them fucking when I walk past their room. I’m all for a healthy sex life, but I don’t need to be the unwilling witness to theirs all the time, since I don’t have one right now.

Soon enough, I’ll get back in the game. With Andre, preferably, who is still being incredibly sweet and patient with me. Until then, I think I need a place of my own, and to not be confronted with happy couples when I’m hanging out on the couch after a long day of work and pretending I’m not still hurting over Kian.

My own place, with a yard, and that cat I’ll finally be able to get. Tomorrow, I’ll start looking into buying a place, with some help from Nathan. Who knows, maybe it’s the right time to settle down after all, even if I’ll be doing it on my own. I deserve a nice place, with or without a partner. I’m determined to find one.

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