The Caught Up (3)

The Caught Up (3)

  Throughout the day I wore a mask. I made sure I smiled and flirted more than ever and if I got the contacts of several guys, I didn’t really care. I’m not even going to call them. I just used them to get through the day and escape the hawk eyes of my friends.

  Now I’m home and most of the things I bought(I really spent today) are still in the car. I’ll get them out later. Now, I just want to lay on my bed and have a good cry.

  After all this time, why now? Saying he never got over me, what did it mean? And he has a kid!
Do I want to talk to him? Reunite?
No, no. We’re a closed chapter. Not going back.
Not ever.

The sound of my phone ringing stirs me from sleep. Groggy, I search for my phone. Finding it, I swipe and tap the screen and it’s a go.

“Hello” I say sleepily.
I hear a sigh before the person spoke.
“It’s been long since I heard you this way. Now I miss it. Sorry I woke you.”

Mike, he’s the one calling.

“No you’re not.” 
I hear a slight chuckle.
“You’re right. I’m not sorry.”

“Why are we whispering?” I ask.
“I just put Justin to sleep. Today was a busy day for him.” In a lower tone he adds:
“He couldn’t stop talking about you. Kept asking who you were? If you were a nice person since I told him we were friends. In just one meeting you got my son hooked…just like you got me hooked.”

He’s done talking.

I sit up in bed and try to tamp down the emotions brewing in me.

“That didn’t stop you from leaving," I remind him, the tears in my voice clear and when I hear his sharp intake of breath, I know he also heard it.

“What do you want Mike?” I finally ask, drawing strength from how far I’ve come. I’m no longer that love-struck rebellious teenager, I’m a grown woman paying for her actions.

“I just…can we be friends atleast?” he asks.
I let out a bitter laugh.
“Mike, we can’t be friends. If it didn’t work then what makes you think it’ll work now. Besides, you have your son. He needs you. I have to go, Mike.”

“Don’t hang up on me. Okay this once, let’s hang out. Steph, I miss you. I don’t want to dwell on coulda shoulda, we both made mistakes. I’m asking for a chance to…just hear me out."

After so many years, he still gets to me. Against my own good, I agree,

We say where we’re going to meet the next day and we’ll see what we’ll see.

It was like going back. Every mood, gesture the other made was like a familiar play, before you know it we were talking about meeting again. 

 The familiarity was a nice change and though we knew the other had changed in some ways, discovering those changes was exciting. Soon we were taking his son to the beach, just hanging out, having dinner.

When I saw a toy at the mall and was about to reach for it thinking how Justin would get a charge out of it, I had to dial back. Mike and I were just friends, nothing more. I didn’t want to make it more than what it was, which was just…friendship.

“Old gal, we haven’t seen you at the club for sometime. You’ve been; such a busy bee.” That was Sharon, another friend of mine on the phone.

It’s past nine and I’m in my car driving back home. I’ve just had dinner at Mike’s house and I had so much fun playing with Justin as Mike prepared him for sleep.

My life suddenly feels different. It feels like I’ve found my place. It sounds silly since I’ve always known my place, but this just feels different.
The thought sends warning bells ringing in my head.

In the past few months, I’ve spent less time with my girls and more time with Mike and Justin. My girls are my family not the other two. It’s time to get my mind back on track. I can’t afford to go back when my life’s just starting to get better.

“You know what, I’m heading there right now. Keep my seat warm for me.”

“Yay! We’re waiting!” She’s excited. I won’t think about the comfort of my home or the silence that I need after a busy day.

I get to the club and though I’m not dressed in my club outfit, my jeans and t-shirt will have to do.

“Hey girls!” I call out and I love the whoops and whistle that follow.

“Thank God!” Lucy pulls me down beside her.
“I was already thinking that Mike was tying you down. Guy’s got no joy. What do you even do together? Play house with Justin around?” She laughs and the rest follow her.

“Whatever, I’m here now," I say.
I feel my eyes already twitching and look around the club, it’s the usual bumpin and grindin. The hookup palace.

“You don’t look it," she counters.
I turn back to them.
“What?” I’m puzzled.
“Prove it! He’s just another guy and we’re here in this club. Prove it," she challenges.

I see the same look on the others and….what the hell!
I look at them, accepting the challenge. I stand and take off my t-shirt, it’s just my camisole with a built-in bra left. With a smirk, I pick up a drink from the table and swallow in big gulps. When I’m done I take in their faces, they look relieved, happy. They haven’t lost me. Then I say to them “Let the party begin!”

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