Learning to Love

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Too Close

I led him stiffly to Simon’s door, anxiously wondering what to do when I got there. When we got there he reached out to knock and I quickly grabbed the handle.

“I’ll get it for you. Just a second.” I said frantically as I slipped into the apartment.

“Where’s Aaliyah?” I hissed quietly to a stunned Simon and Balissa who had been snuggling on the couch.

It was then, I noticed that Aaliyah was asleep on Balissas lap.

“Adrian left his jacket. He’s in the hall.” I said frantically.

Balissa grinned, “Is he going to meet Aaliyah?”

I shook my head, my breathing irrotic. I grabbed handfuls of my own hair and began pacing.

“I’m not ready for that. I haven’t even told him. I have to make a plan. I don’t know if I can, or should do that.” I was panicking, I knew that, and I couldn’t seem to stop.

Simon frowned and Balissa sighed. she stood handing Aaliyah to me.

“You can both hide in my room, just know you can’t hide forever and he deserves to know. He has been nothing but good to you.” She said deliberately. “Go catch your breath.”

I carried Aaliyah back to their bedroom and sat on the bed cradling her tightly to my chest. As my breathing calmed I started to hear voices in the living room.

“Where did Jess go?” Adrian asked.

“Bathroom.” Balissa said at the same time Simon said, “Bedroom.”

There was an awkward pause.

“I think she thought your coat was back there, I’ll go find her.” Balissa said after a minute.

She opened the door.

“Get out there, I’ll stay with her.” She snapped.

I nodded, taking a deep breath to regain my composure. Then I walked out the bedroom door.

“Lysa said you found the jacket?” I asked nervously.

“Yup,” Simon sounded annoyed.

Adrian for his part looked really confused.

“Good, I’m glad. I should get back.” I said, thinking quickly. “Adrian, will you walk me to my door?”

I had to admit I didn’t really like the idea of anyone knowing exactly where I lived, but I trusted him and it was the lesser secret.

“Um yeah. Of course.” Adrian looked both surprised and confused.

As we left, I tried not to feel hurt at his shock. I had no right to feel that way. Up until now I had stubbornly guarded where exactly I lived. Still something in me felt hurt that he was so surprised that I trusted him with this.

When I thought a little harder though, another question shot to my fore brain and I felt guilty. Would I have trusted him with even this if I had another choice?

Guilt washed over me. He deserved so much more than this. So why, knowing that, could I not give him what he deserved?

“What’s wrong?” Adrian asked, bringing me back to the present.

“Nothing.” I forced a smile, stopping in front of my door. “This is it.”

“So this is the mysterious dwelling.” He smirked playfully.

“It’s not very mysterious. Though I would appreciate it if you did give my address to anyone. It’s important.” I frowned, suddenly realizing the risk I had taken.

I comforted myself that he had already known the complex now he just had the room number too. If he had any contact with anyone who wanted to find me, they would have already been knocking on doors.

I shuddered and wrapped my arms more tightly around myself.

Adrian watched me for what seemed like a long time before he finally spoke.

“Of course.” He finally spoke thoughtfully. Then he hesitated before adding, “Andrew lives with you, right?”

I nodded, “Yeah.”

He sighed, seeming relieved, before smiling widely. “I had a great time today Jess.”

“I did too. In fact I can honestly say that was by far the best date I have ever been on.” I admitted blushing.

He grinned then leaned down kissing my forehead again. “I’ll see you on Monday.”

I nodded and watched him leave. For the first time I was anxious for the weekend to be over. Monday seemed much too far away.

After a deep breath I walked back to Simon and Balissas apartment to get Aaliyah. As I took her into my arms Simon stood and walked over to me.

“I won’t lie to hide her from him again. I understand that her not being common knowledge is vital. However, that is a good man who really cares about you, and I will not continue to help you lie to him.” He walked away heading back to his room.

Balissa gave me a sad half smile before waving sheepishly and following him.

I let myself out and walked back down the hall. I was suddenly all too aware I had allowed Adrian way too close to my family, my daughter, and myself.

However I also knew I couldn’t push him away. I didn’t want to lose him, I couldn’t lose him. He had quickly become much too important for me to lose.

As I entered the house and sat on the couch my phone dinged. My heart stuttered and I grinned stupidly as I read the text.

Adrian:

Hey agápi mou.

Jessica:

What does that mean?

Adrian:

Stay tuned 😉

“Hey, Jess.” Andrew said as he walked into the apartment.

He dropped his keys on the counter then grabbed an apple off the counter before sitting on the couch next to me.

“Hi.” I smiled back.

For a minute we just watched Aaliyah playing quietly on the floor.

“So…” Andrew started as Aaliyah climbed on to the floor and started dragging her doll around in circles. “Maddy was asking if you guys were coming to the Christmas party again today.”

I winced slightly, but then I thought of my date. How drastically it had paid off, and how much fun I had had, stepping out of my comfort zone for a night.

“It’s just the team?” I asked with a sigh.

“Yeah, and close family. It would be safe.” He assured me.

“Sure,” I agreed reluctantly.

His eyes grew wider, “I expected to have to fight with you on it.”

I laughed, “So sorry to disappoint big brother.”

He rolled his eyes then smiled at me. “I like him. He makes you happier than I have seen you since, before everything started.”

I nodded watching Aaliyah. A comfortable silence settled between us for a while.

“Drew?” I asked, my voice seeming too loud after the long silence.

“Yeah, what’s up?” He asked, turning to face me.

“Do you think it would be safe to tell him about Aaliyah? Do you think he would hate her too?” My voice was barely above a whisper.

“I don’t think he would do anything to hurt either of you. It will always be a risk but I can’t see how word would get back to them.” He hesitated before continuing. “As for hating her, no. I don’t think he would hate her for any reason. However he may not feel up to the task of dating a single mother. You should prepare for that possibility. It’s a huge undertaking.”

I nodded nervously.

Later I laid in bed staring at my phone. I had written and rewritten messages to Adrian, before finally deciding I couldn’t tell him anything over text.

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