Chapter 3: Unplanned Plans
The sizzle and drip of the coffee machine is the only thing keeping me conscious as I wait for it to brew. After heading to bed way too late, I’d barely slept a wink last night knowing that sexy rich boy vagabond was in the room right next door to me. Every toss and turn he made, I heard with the skill of a thousand bats.
He’s not at all like I expected. With his designer scarf, ridiculous shoes, and even more ridiculous car, I figured he was some entitled jerk showing off his cash. But I was wrong. In the two hours we spent chatting over the tea I realized he hated but drank to be polite, I laughed more than I have in years. He was nothing short of genuine and down to earth, with the added bonus of being hotter than any man I’ve ever seen.
I’m lost to my lascivious thoughts of all the things I’d imagined doing to my houseguest last night, none of which were appropriate or ladylike, when my phone shrieks from the counter, careening me back to the present.
My eyes roll into my brain when I see Hunter’s name floating across my screen, knowing she’s calling to harass me about going home yet again. Being the bitch that I am, I ignore call after call, watching as she oscillates between texting and video chatting until I can no longer stand the incessant ringing.
“Jesus fuck, Hunter! What?!” I snap, picking up on what has to be her twentieth try.
I’m greeted by her smiling face staring at me through the screen with amusement. “Who crapped in your cereal this morning, you cranky bitch?”
God, I hate that I love her. After growing up as neighbours straight from the womb, if I didn’t see her as a sister, we would never have stayed friends over the years. She’s always been extroverted and friendly, while I’m stuck being the introvert friend with an infamous resting bitch face. That’s not to say I’m an actual bitch. I’m not. But my ability to feign joy really took a dive when my parents died.
I have no biological siblings, and although I’m lucky to still be an honorary member of Hunter’s family, I’ve felt incredibly alone since that day. It sucked even more knowing I no longer had a husband to help get me through. When he left me for another man, his college buddy and business partner, that just nailed down my inability to smile even more.
The worst part about the entire situation isn’t that he left me for someone else. It’s that I can’t even be mad about it. He’s an amazing guy. One who finally had the courage to become who he truly felt he was. He never cheated on me, physically at least. As much as it hurts to know I couldn’t give him everything he needed, how could I ever hate him for finally accepting himself by learning to love who he truly loves without reservations?
He offered to stay, find a new job, and never see Steve again, but what kind of person would it make me if I denied him the chance at true happiness? I loved him enough to let him go. And despite how down I felt about it, the choice is something I will never regret.
“Earth to Nik! Hello?” Hunter shouting through the phone makes me jump, knocking my pity party back into the dark recesses of my mind.
Clearing my throat, I set my gaze on hers and sigh. “Let me guess, you’re calling to tell me to come home?”
“Well, actually…” The twinkle in her eyes and the mischief in her smile sets me on edge as I prop my phone up against the coffee machine, letting Hunter talk while I pour myself a cup and take a sip. “I kind of already bought you a ticket. Plane leaves tomorrow at seven.”
I choke and sputter on my scalding coffee, shooting her a vicious look that holds the promise of a premeditated murder. “What the hell, Hunt?! I already told you, I’m not coming home. If you miss me that badly, why don’t you come here for the holidays?”
“And drown in buckets of snow while freezing my California ass off? Fuck that.” Hunter balks, laughing like I’m a lunatic for even suggesting she come here. “Plus, ticket is already bought and paid for. You have no excuse not to come.”
Desperate for a way out of this unplanned trip, my brain scrambles, trying to think of something to convince her I have plans other than the pity party we both know I’ll spend the holidays wallowing in. I never should have told her about my horror movie, champagne marathon last year.
Almost forgetting I had a house guest, I don’t register the sound of footsteps behind me until a deep voice rasps from the kitchen doorway. “Morning, Nik.”
My head snaps over my shoulder, a smile stretching across my lips as an idea forms in my head. One that might just give me the perfect reason to stay in snowy Canada, and far away from the place I no longer call home.