#75 Reverse psychology
Mila grins at my extreme reaction. “I know he’s perfect for you. I just needed you to remember that.”
Fucking hell, goddamn Philips is playing mind tricks on me. Reverse psychology and all that shit. “Therapy changed you,” I complain with half a smile, plopping back down on the lounger. “You’re so mean.”
“You came here for my tough love, baby.” She motions for one of the servers on the private beach to bring us more cocktails. Scarlett’s brother is the manager of the hotel here, so we’re treated like VIPs. “Do you want to hear my take on things?”
“Give it to me.”
And she does, while I sip my cocktail and let her words wash over me. She tries to get me to see the last nine months through Andre’s eyes. How he fell in love with me while I was unavailable. How we flirted without it ever going anywhere. The confusion, the sadness, the stubborn hope that we’d find our way to each other eventually.
And then we did, nine months ago, when I finally broke up with Kian. Andre was worried he’d become my rebound, and desperately tried to take things slow with me, but that didn’t really happen. We might have waited to have sex, but we were all in from that very first kiss, whether he wanted to be or not. I basically moved into his place, we met each other’s families, and our lives intertwined in ways that we will never be able to undo the way Kian and I could. I’ve never even seen Kian since that day we tried to get some closure and he was a total dick to me. If Andre and I were to ever break up, it wouldn’t be like that. We’re in each other’s lives for good. I know we are, and he feels it too.
We’d only been together for a heartbeat when I dropped a huge bomb on him. I was having a kid that could never truly legally be his, and I was asking him to raise it with me. I made him feel like he had no say in the matter whatsoever, and I’d be okay with him breaking up with me over it.
Still, he tried to make things work. And we did. We so did. He gave up his apartment to move in with me, came to the ultrasound, is reading up on all things pregnancy, and he’s the most active one in our group chat about the little baby in Deidra’s belly, always supporting her and sharing helpful articles without being annoying about it.
“He defended your relationship to his parents,” Mila reminds me. “Who mean the world to him, so that’s a big fucking deal. He’s been in this from the start, Dylan. His anxiety isn’t about his love for you. It’s about the baby, and I understand that. Maybe it’s weird for me of all people to understand that about Andre, but I do. If it was bad for me to lose a child… I can’t even imagine what it must be like for Andre to know that could happen one day.” She pauses for a moment, probably thinking back to her abortion. While it was her choice, it did hurt like hell. It actually took her longer to get over it than James, I think.
“Hey, you okay?” I ask, reaching over to squeeze her arm.
“Yeah, fine, sorry.” She shakes it off and smiles. “I’m just saying I get it, in a weird way. It would be a million times harder for him than it was for me. He wants this baby. He’s already acting like a dad, according to what you’ve told me so far. James and I are still in touch, and he keeps telling me how amazing Andre is about all of this. Oh, and do you know what I actually admire most about Andre?”
“What?” I ask, feeling very emotional about her talking me through my relationship with Andre. The best relationship of my life. No, it’s not been an easy one, but we’ve got great communication most of the time, and I love him so fucking much. He accepts me the way I am, and I do the same for him. That shit is rare.
“He could so easily have told you that he’d marry you. He knows that you’d have honored that commitment no matter what, but he wanted to make sure that you were doing it for the right reasons.” Mila smiles at me with so much love it almost makes me tear up. “I like that kind of man for you. Someone with a sense of self-worth. Who wants you to marry him for him and not because you want to make the baby thing easier.”
Of course Mila will see it that way. None of my other friends have said anything like it. They just all called Andre an idiot. Which he is, but I understand Mila’s point of view too. Her love story with Scarlett wasn’t exactly straight forward either, and I think it was more about Mila finally learning to love herself than about her falling for Scar. They’re perfect together, but they would both be just fine on their own as well. They love and respect themselves so much they’d rather be alone than with someone who makes them miserable. Still, they struggle through long-distance when Scarlett takes off again, or Mila follows her around the damn world so they won’t have to be apart for too long. They work hard at staying happy together, but they would never sacrifice their own happiness. Not in a million years.
I’ve always loved that about Mila. I cheered her on when she finally realized how awesome she truly is, worked through her issues, and found a woman who supports her the way she deserves. And she’s right – I am glad Andre wants me to marry him for the right reasons. He deserves that, just like I do.
“Look at it like this,” Mila goes on. “He said yes in the end because he wants to spend the rest of his life with you, not because of the whole baby Peterson plan. It would have been so much easier to just accept your kind offer and tie you to him, but instead he chose the more difficult path and made sure you were both in it for the right reasons. Did he do it in the best way possible? Hell no. But he’s not a saint, and he’s trying his best. The man told you to book a plane ticket to go see your best friend who is basically your ex.”
“You’re not my ex.” I roll my eyes at that description. “We fucked twice. That hardly makes what we had a relationship.”
“Still, I don’t think many guys would be okay with you hanging out with me in a far-away country, without any way of knowing if we’re fucking or not. I’m a webcam girl you were once in love with. A quite promiscuous one.” She winks at me. “It would make sense for him to worry about us being close, but he trusts you. He wants the best for you, even telling you to leave him if he no longer makes you happy. Your fucking fiancé sent you off to see the girl you once loved, because he could tell you needed a break. If that’s not a man who loves you desperately and who wants you to be happy above anything else…”
She’s right. I know she’s right. I didn’t think of it that way when Andre suggested me coming here, but it does show a huge amount of trust on his part. He’s got a past that has shown him that the man you love can turn out to be an untrustworthy bastard, but he doesn’t let that influence how he treats my relationships with my friends.
“Do you believe he loves you?” Mila smiles when I nod. “And do you want to marry him?”
“I do,” I murmur. “You know I do. I’m just scared his insecurities will get the better of him again one day. On our wedding day, maybe.”
“He’s not going to be a runaway groom.” She laughs. “Andre would never do that to you. Every single time he freaked out, he has come back to you and talked about the issues. He’s better at communicating than anyone I know. He’d rock the shit out of my therapy sessions with Indra. I’d kill to talk about my shit as easily as Andre does.”
“When did you get so wise?” I shake my head at her, feeling lighter than I have in weeks.
“That’s the result of sunshine, regular therapy sessions, and hot sex at least four times a week.” She sighs happily. “It’s so nice to be with Scar again. Things were tough when she was in Africa, but when we’re together again, life is so easy.”
It took her a while, but she’s happier than ever, and I’m glad I get to see that this week. Plus, she makes a lot of sense. I think I needed her tough love and for her to analyze the situation with Andre in a way I couldn’t while I was in the middle of it all.
“I should let him know I’m not coming back home to break up with him,” I decide. “He’s probably been freaking out since I left for the airport four days ago.”
“Go call your man,” she agrees. “I’ve got to stream in half an hour anyway.”
We finish our cocktails and then part ways. I go back to my hotel room to talk to my man, and she heads to the small apartment she shares with Scarlett during their stay here in Brazil.
“Hey love,” Andre says when he picks up, sounding happy to hear from me. We haven’t talked on the phone the whole time I’ve been here, and he only texted me when I said something first. He’s been giving me the space he knew I needed. Mila is right, he truly loves me and knows me inside and out. He’s not a saint, but he’s as close to perfect as anyone can ever be.
“Are you at work right now?” I ask, sitting down on a towel I put on the bed to keep it clean from my wet beach body.
“Yeah, but I can take a break to talk to you.” He mutters something to one of his employees, and then he’s back. “Okay, I stepped into the back for a moment. How’s Brazil?”
“Sunny, and it’s amazing to see Mila again after so long, but I’m also glad I’m coming home in three days.”
“Yeah?” he asks, sounding hopeful.
“I miss you,” I confess. “And you thought you might like to know that when I get back, I want to go ring shopping with you to find the most extravagant engagement ring ever. I want to kiss you all over your cute face, and finally put this whole mess behind us.”
“Oh thank God.” He sounds so relieved it makes me a little emotional. “I love you, Dylan. I’m so sorry about everything. I messed it all up.”
“You didn’t. We’re okay. We need to start planning our wedding the second I get home, though. We’re gonna need to tie the knot before the baby gets here, but I refuse to have anything but the biggest, most extravagant and gay wedding anyone has ever seen, so we’ll need to get on that.”
“We should hire Derrek,” he agrees. “We’ll be too busy with getting everything ready for the baby to plan the whole wedding ourselves. He did an awesome job on James and Liv’s wedding. I know you loved that castle, maybe we can book that venue if we hurry?”
“That sounds perfect.” I take a deep breath, going back to the reason why I flew all the way to Brazil in the first place. “Andre, I’m sorry it took me so long to forgive you.”
“Love, I said no when you proposed to me.” His tone is strong and vulnerable at the same time. “I’m lucky you forgave me at all. Just enjoy your vacation, catch up with Mila, drink cocktails in the sun… You deserve it.”
“I’d love to take a trip like this with you someday.” Then I realize how terrible that would be for Andre. “Fuck, no, your IBS gets worse in the heat.”
“It does, but I’d love to travel with you.”
“Maybe not Brazil, but… I don’t know? We could go to someplace less hot.”
“See the northern lights, go sledding, hike up a snow-covered hill?” he suggests.
“That sounds absolutely perfect.”
Just like that, in one single phone call, we go back to being Dylan and Andre, happy and in love, always in tune with each other.