Chapter Twenty One - Show Me Different
“Fuck.” I muttered. Mindlessly picking up shards.
“Grace don’t.” Brennan was up and over by me in seconds, but it was already too late. A sharp shard cut into my hand and I dropped the glass again as bright red droplets fell on to them.
“Let me look.”
“No.” I whispered. “It’s fine. It’s just a little cut.”
Brennan huffed and walked out of the room. I thought he’d actually listened until he came back holding a first aid kit. He placed it down on the bench before grabbing a clean dish towel and wrapping it around my hand.
“I don’t know what is going on with you right now. But you’re going to let me take care of that.”
I swallowed hard and nodded. I was being weird and I knew it, I just didn’t know why. Ever since the call with my Dad something had shifted. Brennan opened the first aid kit and grabbed out some gauze and a plaster. He unwrapped the towel and inspected the now stinging wound.
“It’s stopped bleeding.” He murmured, dressing it. Once he was done he pointed to the sofa and said “Sit.”
I walked back into the living room and sat down while Brennan cleaned up the glass. He grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and brought it to me.
“Talk to me.” He said sitting down next to me, still giving me space.
“I just miss my parents.” I said softly. It was half true, I always missed them. But I wasn’t sure it was the reason I was behaving so weird.
Brennan nodded. “Okay, I understand. You’ll be with your Dad soon right?” He smiled and placed his hand on my knee. “Back around memories of your Mom too?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Though I kind of get the feeling my Dad is talking me out of the move.”
“Really? Why?” Brennan’s hand didn’t move, I liked his touch, a little too much. I fought the urge to place my hand over his and folded my arms across my chest instead.
“All I ever wanted was to live in the city.” I smiled wistfully. “I used to make these stupid diorama’s of my dream neighborhood. My parents kept them all. There are at least ten in our basement back home. It was never about getting away from them, or a rough life or anything like that… My heart was just here.”
I stopped myself. Stopped babbling. My heart was wherever I wanted it to be.
“I’d like to see them one day.” Brennan said softly.
“Huh?” I replied confused.
“The diorama’s.” he laughed.
“Oh, sure. Of course. I’ll email you a photo.” I replied with a wry smile. “Let’s be real though B, the minute I’m gone it’ll be like I was never here.”
Brennan’s hand moved from my knee, he shifted on the sofa, putting distance between us.
“You really think that?” He whispered. “That I could just forget about you. After everything… after the last few days.”
I turned and looked at him, confused by the flash of hurt in his eyes. His jaw clenched and he bit his bottom lip.
“Am I wrong? I’ve seen and let down more of your conquests than I care to admit. I’m not like them and you forget about them just as easily Brennan.”
Oh Shit. This was the problem. This was what was eating at me. I’d let myself fall into this world that wasn’t real. I’d let myself look at Brennan in a way I’d held back from in the past. I knew I was falling but how deep surprised me, the fact I knew he couldn’t love me back was poisoning my thoughts while simultaneously making me want to stay.
“You’re not like anyone else Grace.” He replied, he sounded annoyed. He stood up and walked into the kitchen. “And the fact you think that after three years I’d just forget about you… well it fucking hurts.”
“I’m sorry.” I whispered. I stood up and walked across the floor to where Brennan stood and put my arms around his neck. “I know we’re friends.”
Brennan’s body tensed, he took a step back, out of my arms.
“I need some air.” He mumbled. “I might go see if I can catch my parents.”
My stomach dropped and I could feel fear in the back of my throat bubbling beneath the surface. He walked to the apartment door and with every step my stomach twisted further.
“Brennan!” I said, almost breathlessly, my voice desperate. “Don’t go.”
Brennan looked back at me. His jaw clenched and he sighed deeply. Within seconds he was in front of me, lifting me up off the ground. Our mouths crashed together causing electrical volts of lust to ricochet through my like thunder in the clouds. Brennan walked through his apartment, into his room and closed his door behind him.
He threw me down on the bed and quickly undone his pants while I set about removing my own. He was inside me before either one of us could think about anything else. His mouth on mine again.
We were rough, our movements jagged and hot. Brennan was angry and turned on and I could tell. I wanted to remove his anger, but not the intensity of this moment.
“Brennan!” I called out, I covered my mouth, realizing his parents could come home at any moment. The first hint of a smile played upon his mouth and he shook his head. He took one of his hands and grabbed my wrists, lifting them over my head and holding them there.
“I like hearing my name on your lips.” he crooned, kissing the curve of my neck. “Don’t ever stop.”
“Brennan.” I pleaded. His mouth tickled against my skin, to the point it was almost painful. He nipped gently before sucking on my ear.
“Again.” He asked, increasing his pace and force.
I wanted to scream his name, I wanted to shout it so loud that everyone heard it, so that he knew how I felt, so that this didn’t ever have to end. Emotion and ecstasy overtook me, intense pleasure and emotional pain rocked every nerve ending to the point I began to shiver.
“Brennan.” I almost yelped, it was too much, all of this. I fell apart for him spectacularly until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. He slumped in to me right after, letting out ragged breaths. His hand let go of mine and I let my hands move back down capturing his cheeks.
He looked up at me for a second, a strange look on his face before he stood up, pulled up his pants and left his room.
The moment he was gone my heart ached. I knew something we couldn’t take back had just happened. First we’d had sex, last night we’d made love and now… for the first time we’d used one another.
I pulled up my pants and crawled under the bed covers. Before I could stop myself I was sobbing. I curled up into a ball and wrapped my arms around my legs.
I must have fallen asleep because I woke to Brennan softly rocking me in the dimly lit room.
“Grace.” He whispered. “Are you alright?”
I looked at the alarm clock. It was 9pm. I’d slept most of the day and I was still exhausted.
“I’m fine.” I replied, feeling anything but. I knew we weren’t really together and that what we were doing was only going to end in tears, most likely mine… but the way he’d looked at me after and then left the room. I couldn’t rid myself of the feeling.
“Are you sick?” He asked, his hand pressed against my forehead. “You don’t have a fever.”
“I’m fine!” I replied a little more forcefully.
Brennan pulled his hand back and I could see his face filled with concern. I didn’t care that he was concerned, I wanted for the first time to run from him.
“I need to apologize.” He whispered. “I need to be honest.”
I scoffed and threw the covers back on the bed. “I need to have a shower.”
I walked across the floor, into the bathroom and turned the light on. Brennan followed me and stood in the doorway.
“Grace. I tried to show you... How disconnected I am. How I’ve operated for years. How I am with women. I knew it was stupid. I knew it would hurt you. I’m sorry.”
I stopped by the shower door and turned and looked at him. The sex hadn’t been the problem. I’d been as turned on as he was. I’d been overwhelmed by him. Once we were done he’d said nothing. He’d just left me. I had no right to feel hurt, but he was right. I did.
“We’re not really together. I’m not owed explanations.” I replied.
“With you I’m different and I don’t want you to think that you’re just like…” he stopped. “I don’t want you to think I don’t care about you because I do.”
“We’re friends Brennan. I know you care.” my voice softened. I walked to the door and placed my hand on his chest. “I think I’ve just gotten so caught up in this and I got confused. That’s my own fault… soon things will be back to normal and it’ll be fine.”
“They won’t be though.” Brennan replied. “You’re leaving.”
Brennan didn’t say anything else. He turned and walked away from the bathroom door. I closed it and then leaned against it. This whole plan had been flawed from the start. We’d been asking for trouble and now trouble was coming.
I forced myself to shower only to realize I hadn’t brought any clothes in with me, so I wrapped a towel around my torso and opened the bathroom door. Brennan wasn’t in the room. I walked into the closet and pulled on a pair of pants and a t-shirt. I walked to the bed and sat back down.
I fell asleep before Brennan came back. When I woke up the next morning he was facing me, asleep. Tomorrow would be our last morning together and the way things were now I wasn’t sure our ending would be sweet. I leaned forward and stole a kiss. Brennan stirred, his hand caught my hip and moved under my shirt and up my back.
He was half asleep, his movements seemed almost automatic.
“Grace.” He whispered.
I wanted to let myself get caught up in him. It would have been so easy. Instead I slipped out of his grip and got out of bed. I tiptoed into the closet and grabbed some clothes, before getting dressed in the bathroom.
When I walked out into the dining room, Jaq was already sitting at the table sipping on a coffee.
“Good morning Grace.” She exclaimed, standing up. She walked into Brennan’s kitchen and pulled a cup out of the cupboard. “Let me get you a coffee.”
I nodded, I needed the pick me up this morning.
“Sam is asleep still, I gather Brennan is having a sleep in as well?” She murmured, pouring the coffee from the pot into the cup. “Cream?”
I nodded. “Yes, he’s asleep and yes to cream. Thank you.”
Jaq walked to the table and placed the steaming cup down in front of me as I sat down. I picked it up and wrapped my fingers around the warmth.
“I took the liberty of googling some wedding boutiques… that’s the right word isn’t it… googling. Anyhow, there are a couple not far from here. They open after 9am.”
I nodded, remembering that I’d agreed to the wedding dress thing. I looked at the clock on Brennan’s wall. It was 8.45am.
“We’ll catch a cab.” I replied. The thought of walking made me want to lie down and take a nap. “I can’t seem to shake this fatigue.”
Jaq smiled and picked up her cup, bringing it to her mouth with a knowing smile on her face. I took a sip of the hot liquid in the hope it was going to inject me with energy.
“Are you sure you’re not… you know?” She asked, placing it back down.
I almost spat my coffee out from the shock of her repeated question. As I composed myself I shook my head and placed the cup down on the table. It wasn’t impossible, abstinence was the only way to avoid pregnancy, but I was on the contraceptive injection and Brennan and I had only first slept together the weekend before. It was way too early to have any kind of symptoms.
“I’m sure.” I said finally. “Maybe I’m getting a cold.”
Jaq dropped the suggestion, and a little after 9am we caught a cab down to the wedding dress boutiques. I felt like a fraud walking into the exquisite store. Guilt spread through me like a noxious weed. The dresses were beautiful, a sea of white and ivory spread before me. I knew the dresses were over the top and overpriced but Jacqueline Wolf didn’t seem like the kind of woman who’d accept my decline. The sales assistant strode up to us, smiling at the both of us.
Jaq and the woman talked while I still looked around in awe. A dress in the corner dressed on a mannequin caught my eye. It looked casual, yet exquisite with lace detailing and a high neckline. It was a figure hugging dress with a flared hem and train. I walked across the floor and touched the fabric.
“Ah, that’s our Octavia dress from the Milk and Honey line.” The sales assistant exclaimed. “Would you like to try it on?”
Being here was surely some kind of bad karma. Trying on the dress and Jaq buying it was seven different levels of something else. But I loved the dress.
“Yes.” I whispered.
Once I was in the changing room the dress hung in front of me like a cruel reminder of what I didn’t actually have. I wasn’t actually engaged and this wouldn’t actually be my dress. I sighed and peeled my clothes off before slipping to the gown. It fit me like a glove, like the measurements were made for me. I looked at myself in the mirror, and for some reason that I couldn’t quite explain, tears formed at the corner of my eyes.
I opened the dressing room curtain and walked out, Jaq and the sales assistant both rallied around me, I wasn’t really listening to them, but the hugs and sniffles from Jaq led me to believe she liked it too.
“It doesn’t look like any alterations will be required. If you like this one we can bag it up and you can leave with it today.”
“What do you think dear? Would you like to try on any others?”
I turned and looked back at myself in the mirror. If I was getting married, this would be what I’d choose. I could see myself, standing in front of him, professing my love.
I would only marry one person in this dress, and that one person didn’t believe in settling down anymore.
Tears filled my eyes again, but this time it was the realization that this really was all some kind of warped dream.
“I think we’ll take this one.” Jaq whispered, drawing me in to a hug, mistaking my tears for ones of joy.