Levi has been blowing up my phone and stalking me relentlessly on social media. He wouldn’t say what he wanted, just that he needed to see me urgently. For his sake, I hoped that he didn’t want us to kiss and make up. After everything he put me through, I wasn’t going to let him down gently.
We were supposed to meet for dinner the other night, but I had a prior engagement that I had forgotten about and I cancelled at the last minute. He must have thought I was avoiding him but that was not the case. Anyhow, I didn’t hate him as much as I used to. Maybe I needed to tell him that I forgave him, but that didn’t mean I wanted him back in my life.
There was only one man I wanted but I think we had a few hurdles to stumble over before we could be together again.
I still stood by my conviction that Corbyn and I were both too young to make a solid commitment. He thought he loved me and wanted to be with me indefinitely, but he could meet another girl that he would eventually marry. The same thing could happen with me. Love was fickle sometimes and pretty unpredictable.
Levi’s persistence finally got to me and I agreed to meet him for dinner. He didn’t take my word for it and decided to come and pick me up from my house. We drove to a Mediterranean restaurant on Broadway where A-listers frequented. It was pricey and he had managed to secure a reservation. I had to ask him a couple of times if he could afford it and he assured me that we wouldn’t wash any dishes tonight.
“What are you having?” he asked me once we were seated. After deliberating, I ordered a Kale salad and lamb chops and he went for the grilled salmon, then got a bottle of white wine for our table.
“So,” I slapped his menu closed. “What’s this about, Matthews?”
I hadn’t seen him again after graduation but he was still handsome in his dark suit and had an air of maturity about him. He was about three years my senior, but due to his misdemeanors he kept dropping out of school and his dad would haul him right back, up until he finally graduated.
“I just wanted to say thank you for agreeing to see me. I appreciate it-more than you know.”
“And…I know it’s too late but I’m really sorry about messing up your life, Blue. It was pretty messed up.”
I resisted the urge to snort. “You don’t say…”
He didn’t catch the sarcasm in my voice; his gaze was trained on a tall blond woman that had just sashayed past our table. Her blue dress molding her curves to perfection. This was one coincidence too many. I knew we moved in the same circles but this was becoming emotionally taxing.
“Zara. Corbyn’s new flame.” I supplied in a flat tone. Suddenly, the wine was too bland. I needed something stronger.
“I thought-sorry let me not pry,” he cleared his throat and diverted his eyes. “She’s looking really good…a total babe!” he gushed.
“Yeah,” I grunted in response.
My heart skipped a beat as a lean figure in a stylish, skinny-fit suit entered the room. As the maître d’ led him to the table, he was acutely aware of the heads turning to watch him. He was a beauty.
My eyes followed his every move and my heart clenched when he leaned down and kissed Zara’s cheek before sitting next to her. Of course, he didn’t feel me gawking at him. A sudden shameful desire to have him as my own overtaking me. He must have known that I watched. There was a sly smile on his lips as though he could imagine the effect that seeing him here with her was having on me. But he didn’t even so much as blink in my direction. How could he take his eyes off her when he was mesmerized by his childhood sweetheart, who was everything that I was not?
She was so debonair and sophisticated. Sweet, smart, beautiful and as innocent as he was. They were a perfect match. So why was I gripping the stem of my wine glass so tightly that it threatened to snap?
“Do you want to leave?” Levi suggested, picking up on my inner turmoil. The food arrived and the decision was made. “We can always-”
“No.” I wasn’t going to run again. I was going to have to sit this one out. I swallowed and tried to still my breathing.
“Can you be any more obvious, Rivers?” Levi peered at me quizzically.
“Huh?” I was dreamy and lost in my thoughts that I did not pay attention to what I was doing or what was going on around me.
“You are blatantly staring and that’s not a good look on you.”
“I’m sorry, let’s get back to why we’re here-you were saying?”
I hardly heard a word he said after that. I was too busy trying not to stare at the couple sitting across the room. Trying with all my might not to wish that it was me and him. Not her. Never her. But me. Only me.
Was I selfish? Crazy? Stupid? Or just having a hard time moving on?
“Blue?” Levi’s voice dragged me back to reality.
“Hmm?” my eyes snapped up and my cheeks were flushed as though from too much wine.
“Will you ever find it in your heart to forgive me for everything I’ve done?” His simple, earnest request and the remorse on his face floored me. And I wasn’t even listening.
“Levi,” I sighed, gazing up at him. “I want you to know that I forgive you but…we can’t be together again.”
He appeared stunned then embarrassed. “This is not-I didn’t-”
“Blue, you got it all wrong,” he laughed softly. “I needed to apologize to you because I felt that I owed it to you. I don’t want you back.” A sheepish smile tugged at his lips as he raked his fingers through his hair. “I’ve kind of met someone…and I think she’s the one.”
“Oh wow,” I smiled and sat back, temporarily forgetting my woes. “Who would have thought Levi Matthews would fall in love?”
“Not me!” his eyes crinkled. “But let’s talk about you for a minute. What happened between you and Coleman? How did you mess it up?”
“Yeah, you,” he chuckled. “It can’t be him. He was head over heels-wore his heart on his sleeve. I’m not so sure about you..?” His brows were drawn together in a frown and yet the blue eyes twinkled with humor.
“I love Corbyn-”
“Ah...” Picking up the glass of wine, he took a swallow.
“Nothing,” he lifted his shoulders in a noncommittal shrug. “Just couldn’t help noticing you used the present tense.”
“Tell me about it?” he said.
“I know right?”
“No…” A soft laugh escaped his throat. “I meant that in the literal sense.”
“Where do I even begin?” On their own volition my eyes slid upwards and fell on the object of my demise again. He was holding up a cupcake with a single candle, singing happy birthday to Zara. Her eyes sparkled like the blue dress and diamonds she was wearing. She clutched her hands against her chest, while he stroked her hair and placed a lingering kiss on her forehead.
“Don’t do that,” Levi reprimanded me. “You need to learn how to control your reaction.”
“Please excuse me.” Tears weren’t far away as I swallowed what remained in my glass and poured another. “I need the bathroom.” Pushing back the chair, I rose from the table and hurried to the sanctuary of the ladies’ restroom.
But that hope was quickly dashed when I found Zara there.
“Hey you!” she looked up and smiled as she dried her hands, then came to give me a tight hug. “It’s been too long, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah. Too, too long,” I replied dryly and stepped back stiffly. “It’s good to see you.” I smiled in a way that seemed to say, ‘you are quite at liberty not to believe me and I don’t even care whether you do or not, but you have no grounds for telling me so’.
“I saw you with Levi and didn’t want to disturb-the conversation seemed intense.”
“And I saw you with, Corbyn…” My ex that I’m still very much in love with.
“Isn’t it funny how things turned out?” she said and let out a contented sigh. “I always thought you’d end up with Corbyn. I mean he ditched me because he still loved you but now you’re with Levi and I’m back with the love of my life. I’m deliriously happy and hope that you are too.”
“I’m just so thrilled for you two!” I pasted on a smile and squeezed her shoulder. “No one deserves happiness more.”
“I’ve got to go,” she said, checking her flawless makeup in the mirror. “Corbyn is taking me somewhere to continue my birthday celebration. He says it’s a surprise!” she ended with an excited squeal.
“Sounds like fun,” I managed to utter through a constricted throat. If she knew the images my mind conjured up at that moment, she would have passed out on the floor.
“We should catch up sometime,” she said as she made her way to the door. “I’ll get your number from sweet face-sorry I meant Corbyn,” she giggled like a teenager. “See you around, Blue.”
I turned and leaned on the counter, my quick breathing loud in my ears. I couldn’t do this anymore. It hurt too much and was torture of the worst kind. I think it was time for me to move to another state.