My house feels eerily empty and quiet now that Avery isn’t here lighting up the place. I’ve lived in this house for nearly a year, but somehow now it’s filled with memories of her dancing obnoxiously, her soft laughter, her brilliant smiles, and the way she looked in my arms in the mornings.
I shake my head to dispel the images. Friday was the first date I’d been on since Kendra in high school. I thought it went well, but I was not expecting to spend the weekend with Avery. It was amazing, and I felt happy for the first time since Kendra shattered my heart, but now that Avery isn’t right in front of me to dispel all those bad feelings, I’m afraid again. I just put my heart back together. I don’t want it to break again.
I want to call Avery or text her or something to let her know I miss her already, but I refrain. I erase every text I start and set my phone down on the coffee table. I sit back on the couch and look beside me. It’s empty and I feel empty again. This weekend has been my only respite from the loneliness.
I just don’t know if I’m ready to head down this path again. I wasn’t expecting it when I picked her up a few days ago, but after this weekend, I know if I keep seeing her, I will just continue to fall. I’m not ready to let someone have that much power over me again.
So, I don’t call Avery or text her or anything. I go back to work and avoid all the questions Tom feels inclined to ask on Holly’s behalf. I’m falling back into that hole I fell into after Kendra, and I don’t like the feeling.
Days pass, and eventually, I get texts from Avery. Apparently, she still wants to talk to me even though I don’t call like I promised. They start off innocently enough and span the next two weeks.
Avery: Hey, just checking in. I wanted you to know I had an amazing weekend and I miss you.
Avery: Hey, did I do something wrong?
Avery: You seriously aren’t going to answer any of my texts or calls? What happened?
Avery: This is getting ridiculous. We had an amazing weekend, and I thought you were as into it as I was. Maybe I was wrong, and you just used me since I didn’t have any self-restraint when I gave it up.
Avery: Well, Noah, thanks for the amazing weekend, but I’m done. I won’t let another man treat me like garbage. You of all people should know how that feels. Goodbye.
After two weeks, the texts stop coming. Each text is a knife to my heart and I know I should say something back to them, but I’m a pussy. I’m just a fucking pussy that can’t even muster enough courage to tell her how I’m feeling. She, of all people, would get it.
It’s better for her to think I’m not interested. I don’t want to drag her down with me in unhappiness. She seems to just be picking herself up from whatever shit her dick ex-boyfriend put her through.
I’ve been avoiding calls from Evan, Kristie, and Sweets too. I know they just want to know how everything went. They know how Avery made me feel when she was here. They’d be on my ass if they knew I’ve ghosted her. They’ll just reprimand me for being a dick. And I am being a dick. I know I am. I just can’t bring myself to finish all the texts I start.
Two and a half weeks have passed since the weekend of the hurricane, and if it’s possible, I feel worse than I did before. What am I doing? Why am I denying myself a chance to be happy? Oh right, Kendra left me so fucked up I don’t think I’m capable of being in a relationship right now. Besides, Avery was hurt enough by Rich. I don’t want to kill her spirit the same way he did. Though maybe I am by ignoring her. Jesus, I really fucking suck.
I’m going through all the pros and cons of being with Avery in my head. That’s even assuming she’d still want anything to do with me after ghosting her for the last few weeks. I probably royally fucked up any chance of being with her. I am such a fucking dipshit.
I lean back against my couch and sigh heavily as I bombard myself with self-deprecating jabs. I take a giant swig of the beer I’m drinking. I kind of feel like hitting something or perhaps breaking something, but I know it won’t do any good and I’ve been trying to be better about my temper. Maybe I should go to my gym and hit the bag for a few hours. It’ll be better that way.
I spent too many nights after Kendra drinking so much I thought I might die. I got into way too many fucking fights because of it. I’m recovering and I don’t want to backslide. My friends don’t know how far I fell because they had their own shit going on. I don’t want them to know. I don’t need their sad looks or pity.
I can see the rain pouring outside through my large window walls. It’s not as bad as the hurricane, but it’s still coming down real good. It reminds me of Avery. I get frustrated all over again at myself, so I’m hitting the bag harder than I should be. The smack of my hands against the bag is satisfying. I should be wearing gloves, but I’m not, so my knuckles are getting red. The skin will break soon, but I don’t care. I welcome the pain. I probably deserve it.
I throw my sweat-soaked shirt across the room and I’m breathing hard when my doorbell rings. Who the fuck is that? I’m not in the mood to see Tom, and no one else knows where I live. I let myself think maybe it’s my friends. They’ve come to see me just because they were worried before.
I open the door and what little breath I have is stolen away when I see Avery standing there soaked to the bone by the rain. She looks different in ripped black jeans with lime green Converse. She’s not wearing a jacket over the dark blue shirt with a blue phone box she’s got on. Her hair is wild, and she’s heaving like she’s run a marathon. She looks fucking amazing.
I’m so shocked, I forget all my manners and I just stare at her. I don’t even know what to say. No matter. Avery takes control of the conversation and fuck is she pissed.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” she yells through the loud rain. “I spent six months wallowing over Rich because he made me feel like I was worth less than everyone else in his life. I do not deserve to have you make me feel the same. You said you’d call. If you aren’t into me, then fine, but man the fuck up and have the balls to tell me. Thank you for helping me out of my rut. I had a great time with you. I like you, but I’m done. I just came to get closure. Have a nice life, Noah.”
Avery stalks off while my mouth hangs open. I was not expecting this and now that I’m face to face with this beautiful girl again, how can I say no? I don’t even think I want to say no to this beautiful, apparently nerdy as fuck girl. I’m just scared, but why? Avery is not Kendra. Not even close.
I run after her and grab her hand, pulling her to a stop. Avery spins around and faces me with an expression of half anger, half hurt. I tug on her hand to pull her towards me. She doesn’t fight, so her anger must have dissipated some. Once she’s flush against my chest, I kiss her long and hard until we’re both breathless.
“Do you even want to do this? Because if you say yes, you need to be all in. I can’t be with someone who’s going to ghost me when I’m not in front of their face,” Avery demands in a quiet voice. I see in her eyes how much she wants this with me, and I’m kind of choked up by the emotions. It feels like a lifetime since someone actually wanted me for me and not my money or name. Avery doesn’t even know where I come from.
“You have no idea how much I want this,” I reply before crushing my lips back down to hers.
Both our clothes are soaked by the persistent rain, but Avery holds me close to her by clamping her arms around my neck. I don’t mind any of it though because just kissing her sets my whole body on fire and I forget everything I’ve been trying to tell myself these past few weeks. I do want Avery more than I care to admit.
I kick the front door closed and tear off Avery’s wet shirt. It falls to the floor with a loud slop as she kicks off her shoes. She’s trying desperately to get my shorts off. Her triumphant smile when she finally does makes my body scream for hers. I pick her up and she immediately wraps her legs around my waist as I carry her off to my room.
It’s felt so empty and I want to kick myself when I realize I could have had her in there so many times if only I’d texted her or called her. I am so fucking stupid. Why didn’t anyone tell me how stupid I was being? Oh right, I’d have to actually talk to my friends instead of dodging their calls like the pussy I am.
I push her pants down her legs, and in one fell swoop, I unhook her bra and watch as her boobs spring free. She looks perfect laying on my bed waiting for me. Her smile when her eyes settle on my already naked body is more than I can take.
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“Why didn’t you answer any of my texts?” Avery asks as she lies on my chest in my dark room. I trace along her spine on her bare back and take a deep breath. How do I explain this?
“I think I’m just scared,” I whisper into the darkness
“What are you scared of?”
“Kendra fucked me up pretty good, and I didn’t think I would ever be in a position to give myself to another person again, especially not this soon. Then here you come crashing into my life like the Kool-Aid Man. That date was supposed to be one night to appease Tom. I didn’t think I’d like you so fucking much, and I definitely didn’t expect to spend the weekend with you. After I dropped you off and you weren’t there anymore to make me forget why I was ever sad in the first place, all my fears and insecurities came crashing back. I didn’t want to bring you down.”
“You don’t think you did the same thing for me? I was still mourning my relationship, and I was so sad still even after six months. I didn’t even know I was going on a date until an hour and a half before you showed up. I was determined to make the best of it, but I wasn’t expecting much. You crashed into my life too.”
“Why do we have such shitty exes?” I ask with a small laugh.
“To teach us what not to look for next time. You’re very different from Rich,” Avery replies. I pull her closer and nuzzle her soft hair.
“You’re very different from Kendra in all the best ways.”
I can feel Avery’s smile against my chest as she traces one of my tattoos. She can’t see it, but somehow she remembers exactly what it looks like, even after two-and-a-half weeks apart. She’s really something special and I know I’ll regret it my whole life if I fuck this up again because I’m scared I might get my heart pissed on. But if I let the fear rule me, I’m letting Kendra win. No fucking thank you.