Authors: Anita Claire
Monday after fencing, I get home to find Cassie watching
Keeping up with Kardashians
?” I ask.
“I’ve seen all the episodes, now I’m back to watching HGTV.”
When a commercial comes on, she turns down the sound, with excitement she tells me, “Juliette, I couldn’t wait to tell you, I met that guy you just love.”
Looking at her perplexed, “What are you talking about?”
“You know, Bradford Perry, the musician. You always tell me how much you love his voice. Luke and I were at a thing where he sang. We got to hang out with him afterwards. He’s so hot. Everyone was talking about him being the new artist of the year, and his album winning a lot of Grammy’s. His friends all call him ‘Ford.’ He reminds me of that guy I dated in High School. You remember Beau Bradley? He, too, was hot. Remember him?”
My stomach clenches, Beau Bradley was my sophomore year crush. Knowing this, Cassie went after him.
Cassie continues, “Beau had that brooding, hipster thing going. Well, Bradford Perry is ten times hotter, and his voice….” She just rolls her eyes and pretends to swoon. “Live, his voice just runs through you.”
This whole conversation is annoying me. I introduced Cassie to Bradford Perry’s music the same way I pointed out Beau Bradley. Sometimes Cassie can be so self-centered and insensitive.
Realizing I’m being petty and ridiculous by thinking she can’t enjoy a musician I introduced her to, I breathe deeply to control my hurt feelings. Slapping on a fake smile, I try to move forward.
“We haven’t done anything together in a while. Maybe we should get tickets to his next concert.” I reply.
comes back on. I watch the show trying to tease out why I feel crushed.
On Tuesday, as Meredith and I run, the inevitable princess interrogation begins.
“You haven’t been around the last couple of weeks.” She questions.
“And your point is?”
“You can dish it out, but you can’t take it.”
“Meredith, do you have a point to this?”
“You were all ‘what’s going on with Jennifer and Rocket,’ but when you have a new guy, you’re ten times more tight lipped.”
This makes me laugh. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You and Nate, come on, dish.”
“That’s what you give up? That’s worse than Jenifer’s ‘fun fun fun.’”
“Meredith, it’s just, we’re past the angst of does he like me, and in the middle of he’s my new guy. I’m happy but, Nate and I are too new to talk about.”
“So, you two are having sex?”
“What, are we now in high school? Really?”
“Hita said you’re taking him to the company party this Saturday. Do I really have to wait until her report to learn more?”
“OK, you can ask one question.”
“Are you having crazy monkey sex?”
“Did you ask Hita if she’s having crazy monkey sex with her new guy?”
“First of all, ew. Those two are probably letting their avatars have the sex. And, second of all, answer my one question.”
“Yeah, sex with Nate is amazing. He’s just so sweet.”
“Sweet isn’t crazy monkey sex.”
“OK, so after the crazy monkey sex, he’s real sweet.”
“When do Sam and I get to meet Mr. Sweet-after-sex?”
“Let me talk it over with Nate, and get back to you.”
At work Nate texts in.
What? Give me a couple more words than that.
I’ve got furniture
When do we get to break in your new couch and bed?
All I can think is “ugh.” He gets home from work sometimes so late. It’s so much easier if he comes to my place….
Juliette: Only if you can guarantee you’ll be home by 8:30.
As Hita and I head to the cafeteria, she elbows me, “Saturday I get to meet Mr. Sweet-after-sex.”
“Really, don’t you have something better to do than stupid, idle gossip?”
“You are the queen of hypocrisy. You’ve been itching to know more about Jennifer and Rocket and what went down with Kelly and Sean, but when it’s your turn, you’re all tight lipped.”
“OK, I’ll dish, we had a really nice time on Sunday. We went sea kayaking in the Elkhorn Slough, had lunch at Moss Landing Phil’s, spent the afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and had dinner at Café Sparrow in Aptos.”
“That sounds like a day with your parents. You need to give me more.”
“Little Miss Glass House, you’ve got a new guy. Give me good dirt on the two of you, and I’ll give you dirt on us.”
Hita smiles, “We had fun playing games this past weekend.”
I roll my eyes. “That’s not dirt, you always do that.”
“See, it sucks when friends only tell the G rated parts of their relationship.” She says with a big smile.
“Yeah, OK, well…” Then I give a wicked smile, “We had crazy monkey sex.”
She just laughs, “That was really graphic, detailed, and insightful.” Then she heads off to the Indian food line for some quasi home cooking.
At Zumba, Isabelle says, “I thought you were working late on Tuesdays and Thursdays?”
“I’ll work late after the holidays. I went in on Saturday, and only one guy was there for about a half-an-hour. None of those guys have a life, that’s why they’re always working.”
After Zumba, Isabelle walks me to my car. “I hear Nate’s Mr. Sweet-after-sex.”
“Really? That’s the lamest name I’ve ever heard.”
“Is it good? I don’t mean sex, I mean he’s nice to you, are you happy with this guy?”
As we both sit down in my car with my engine running, I say, “Yeah, he’s real nice, considerate, and easy to be around.” Then I blush a little, “after sex he likes to cuddle. I didn’t know guys like this existed.”
“If he’s so nice, why isn’t he already married? I mean he’s cute, nice, considerate, and has a great future. He doesn’t seem to have commitment issues.”
Smiling I nod my head.
“Why hasn’t some other women hooked her claws into him?” she asks.
“Do you think he has some horrible trait that’s hidden from me?”
She shrugs, “No, not necessarily. It’s just, if he’s such a great guy you’d think he would’ve been with some woman when he was living in Minnesota. Why was he single, and so eager to move here and start a relationship with you?”
“I have no idea, I never thought about that.”
“Oh, no, now I’ve got you overthinking this. I’m just trying to understand guys. Supposedly they have the same range of feelings as we have, but I just think they’re wired differently. I just don’t get where they’re coming from.”
“You’re not seeing Paul again?” I question.
She gives me a hard look, “No, I’m not seeing Paul. It’s just all the guys I meet only want a hookup. Why is it that guys our age are only looking for a hookup?”
“Maybe you need to look at older guys? Nate’s five years older. Maybe he was just into hooking up when he was our age, and now he wants more?” My stomach really clenches after that thought. Nate’s so sweet; I don’t want to think of him as some skanky guy who treated women poorly. Then again, I don’t want to think of him dating or being with other women. He obviously is experienced in bed, and in relationships. Isabelle’s right, I can’t go down some path that will only lead into a downward spiral.
Getting to Nate’s apartment at a little after eight thirty, I ring his doorbell. No answer. I text him:
I’m at your place
Sitting down on the cold cement walkway by his front door, I pull out my phone and continue reading my latest fun romance novel.
My butt gets cold, and my back gets tight, it’s now nine and still no Nate. I text him again. I should have stayed in my car, but this is a good lesson. I’m not showing up at his place when he’s working. It’s so much more convenient when he comes over to my place. At nine-o-seven, I hear the sound of running feet, then I see Nate.
“Juliette, I’m so sorry. I tried to get out at eight.”
Giving me his hand, he helps me up. I shake my phone in his face, “I didn’t leave my place until eight fifteen. At least find the fifteen seconds to text me you’re running late.” I take a deep breath to quell my annoyance.
“You’re either giving me a key to your place, or you’re coming over to my place, because I’m not going to sit out here in the cold again just for some stupid booty call.” I say as I huff into his place. Obviously, the deep breath didn’t mellow me out.
Looking around his place, the new furniture is nice, though the apartment still has this generic quality to it, probably because there’s nothing hanging on the clean white walls. The living room now has a semi-modern cream-colored leather sectional with matching ottoman. Walking into the bedroom, I drop my bag on the floor as I look at the bed. It is semi-modern, dark wood bedroom set. It’s functional but lacks the style of Cassie’s place. Sitting down at the end of the bed, my butt and back feel stiff while I feel chilled, which maintains my annoyance.
Nate stands in the bedroom doorway, holding onto the top of the door frame as he watches me pout.
Leaning back on the bed with my feet on the floor, I raise my hands over my head. “Are we going to break in your new bed?”
“Are you talking to me, or are you angry with me?”
“I was annoyed with you; I voiced my annoyance, now I want you to make it up to me. My butt’s still stiff and I’m chilled from sitting by your front door. I need some loving to make me feel better.”
Nate walks over to the bed, stares down. “That’s it; you’re really over with being mad?”
“What, you were half-an-hour late, you apologized, can we move on now?”
He smiles as he leans over, placing both hands on either side of me, lowering himself as if he’s doing a push-up.
Wrapping my arms around his neck, rolling my fingers through his hair, I get one of his nice deep kisses. When we release, with a warm smile, I say, “Now that alone warmed me up.”
“You taste like toothpaste, give me a minute to catch up.”
The next morning as we lay in post coital bliss, I say, “I was telling my friend, Isabelle, what a good guy you are, and she asked me why weren’t you already married if you were such a good guy?”
Feeling him stiffen, I wonder if I just asked the wrong question. Does he think I’m pushing him? I just want to know if there are any skeletons in his closet. Or maybe it’s just my curiosity. Shit, why did I ask this question?
He finally answers. “You’re not my first girlfriend. Not every relationship ends in marriage.”
“Well, you’re not my first relationship, and I guarantee that when a relationship ends, hopefully you’re not married.”
“Did you contemplate marring your last boyfriend?”
Laughing at just the thought of that, I say, “Never. God, I was in grad school. Marriage was so far from my mind. I didn’t get the other grad students who were getting engaged and married. How can you make a lifelong decision before you know who you’re going to be?”
“What ended your last relationship?” he asks.
Yikes, am I ready to discuss Stephan with Nate? Then again, I’m the one who brought this whole conversation up.
“He’s British. We met in grad school. After we graduated, he asked me to join him in London. I got a paid internship at a financial institution doing exactly what I wanted. I figured it would be a good opportunity to try out London. The job was great, the relationship wasn’t. He was a very different guy in London than he was as a grad student in California. When my internship was over, I turned down a full-time job and came back here. I guess that just proved my point. It’s hard to make lifelong decisions with someone before you’ve formed your post college identity.”
“Were you living together?”
“In London, yeah.”
“How’d you break it off?”
I sigh, “It wasn’t like we were communicating. Every conversation turned into an argument. He started going out with his friends without inviting me to join. At some point, we were barely roommates, it was just so uncomfortable. When my visa came up to be renewed, I told him I wanted to go home. He just said ‘good idea’, and then acted relieved.”
We lay in each other’s arms as I reflect. Finally asking, “And you?”
“My last girlfriend?”
“It ended about a year ago. We were serious. No matter what I did, I couldn’t make her happy. She’s now off searching for her happiness.”
There’s a lot more to this story. It sounds like she broke up with him, it sounds like she broke his heart. I ask, “How did you break up?”
He doesn’t say anything for a while. Finally he says, “She decided to move to Atlanta.”
I know there is more. At some point maybe he’ll tell me the whole story.