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“No,” he said coldly without offering any other information. I made a mental note to figure out who the hell she was.
He was giving me a vibe that he wasn’t that into me. Of course, that only made me want him more. He hadn’t tried to make a move on me, and I went home feeling defeated but determined.
In the weeks that followed, I made no secret of my growing feelings for him. I was very touchy feely and finally came right out and told him I wanted him. He made it very clear that he didn’t want a relationship but seemed open to something casual. I pretended like that was okay with me but secretly vowed to step up my game.
I’d wear my sexiest outfits and bring him takeout from high-end restaurants on Newbury Street. I even made up a long story about a bad breakup to try and get him to open up to me about her. After I shared my “story,” he finally started talking.
That bitch broke up with him. Unbelievable. I didn’t understand how she could drop him like a hot potato after all those years together. The good news was they hadn’t had sex. The bad news: the look in his eyes told me he was far from over her. I would have given anything if he had felt that way about me. The more I got to know him, the more I knew I needed to somehow make that happen. He was the whole package: gorgeous, smart and loyal.
A few nights after he opened up to me about Skylar, we slept together for the first time. I sort of pushed it on him, and he didn’t back down. Even though he seemed distant and removed from the situation, it was the best sex I’d ever had because I was so physically attracted to him. His c**k was enormous, and his body was jacked. I could have come from just rubbing up against him. He was by far the hottest guy I had ever slept with. Being with him did wonderful things for my ego. Like a druggie, I became quickly addicted, vowing to make him mine. I convinced myself he could grow to love me the way he loved her.
It was the middle of the summer. Mitch was allowed to stay at the dorm since he worked on campus. I had an off-campus apartment near Wellesley College and stayed to be near him even though I was supposed to have gone back to Manhattan to house sit for my parents.
When he was asleep one night, I searched his phone to find out if he’d been in contact with her. The last text received from Skylar said she was working in New York City at a fabric store that happened to be close to my parents’ apartment. Lucky me. That was when I devised my plan. I would meet her, try to figure out what he saw in her and then create a way to keep them apart for good. I told Mitch I had to get home to take care of some things and took the US Airways shuttle the next day.
The first time I went to her work, she wasn’t there, but the second time was the charm. I pretended to want to buy fabric, struck up a conversation, and she agreed to go clubbing with me.
Eventually, we ended up getting together a few times a week. She worked Thursday and Friday at the store. We would hang out those evenings and again on Saturday nights. Little did she know, I would fly back to Boston the rest of the week to be with Mitch.
I needed to know whether she still had feelings for him, and the best way to get her to open up was to get her sloshed. She said she didn’t drink, so I started making her the fruitiest, girliest concoctions I could think of.
“This doesn’t even taste like it has alcohol in it,” she’d say.
Yup. That’s the point. Drink up.
It started to work. She’d ask me to make her more drinks, and as a good little bartender, I happily obliged. One night, she told me everything I wanted to know. It was a shock to find out what she had been through, especially the cancer and the infertility. I actually felt bad for her but not enough to give her Mitch. I knew then more than ever that I had to be aggressive. She was still in love with him and would eventually realize she couldn’t live without him. He’d leave me for her in a heartbeat the second she came calling. I couldn’t let that happen.
The first step was to devirginize her. I was pretty convinced part of the reason Mitch held Skylar up on such a pedestal was because she was a virgin. He saw her as this angelic girl saving herself for him. That had to change. So, I enlisted my trusty manwhore of a cousin, Chad, to woo her.
From the beginning, he knew his mission. The problem was, he was supposed to stick around and romance her a little. I was hoping by some miracle, they’d actually like each other. Instead, he bailed after he found out she was still a virgin when he banged her. I knew that would deter him from helping me, so I omitted that little tidbit and let him find out on his own.
My plan backfired because after Chad screwed her over, all she would talk about was Mitch. I put on my best sympathetic front but was panicking inside. My carefully constructed plan was crumbling around me, and desperate times called for desperate measures.
I had to think long and hard. What was the one thing that would keep her away from him? There was only one answer. It also happened to be the one thing that would bind him to me. I needed to get pregnant. It was a little extreme, but keeping him was all that mattered to me. My carrying Mitch’s child would traumatize her so badly that she’d have no choice but to leave us alone. He was a good guy who’d stick by me and take responsibility. He’d grow to love me because I’d give him the one thing she couldn’t.
The only complication would be when she discovered my identity. What would I do if she ever ratted me out? I tried not to think that far ahead, needing to keep my eye on the prize. I could always make up a story, maybe say I didn’t recognize her…call it a coincidence. It would be a long shot, but the good thing was, he didn’t know I looked through his phone. If only I hadn’t been stupid enough to give her my real name.
There had to be a way to turn it around. For all he knew, she came after me. I could lie and tell him she gave me a fake name, twist it so that it seemed like she was a crazy bitch who was stalking her ex and his new girlfriend.
The execution of this plan was going to be the hard part. Mitch was always very careful with protection. He wouldn’t go near me until that condom was on. So, I knew I couldn’t play the whole “I’m on the pill” thing.
When school started up again, I began suggesting that he come to my apartment instead of my going over to the dorm. I made it very enticing since I had just gotten a 60-inch flat screen with HD, complete with access to all of the premium sports channels. He loved to watch the baseball games and didn’t have cable. Whenever we’d have sex at my place, I’d reach into the nightstand and grab one of the condoms from my stash—the ones I had carefully pinned tiny holes into with a sewing needle. We had sex about six times using them. All I could do was hope.
Things had been going according to plan until one night when Mitch came over and looked like he’d been run over by a train. He told me things were getting too serious between us and that it wasn’t fair to me because he was still in love with Skylar. He told me he didn’t think he could ever give me anything more than a casual friends with benefits relationship and that since he knew I wanted more, he needed to end it now before it went any further.
I refused to lose him because of that self-righteous bitch. I panicked. That entire week, I called him repeatedly, begging him to reconsider. I even told him I loved him, that I’d do anything for him. I was losing my mind over it. This wasn’t how things were supposed to play out. He stopped answering my calls altogether by the end of the week, and when I showed up at his dorm, his roommate said he took off to Pennsylvania for the weekend.
That night, it felt like the walls were caving in on me. There was only one ray of hope left, and I was holding the key to it in my hands. As I opened the wrapper and peed on the stick, I prayed to a God who was probably writing my ticket to hell at that very moment. After an excruciating five-minute wait, I looked at the plus sign and was positive that hell was where I’d end up.
Five Years Later
I let out a deep breath. “I saw him.”
“You saw Mitch?”
“That explains the emergency appointment. I don’t normally see you on a Tuesday.” Dr. Rhodes crossed her legs and settled into her upholstered wingback chair. She must have known this session could run long. Since moving back into town, I had only met with her a few times before this.
“Where did you see him?”
“Kevin and I had gone to Target to pick up a few things. I was in the toothpaste aisle, and he was right there. I didn’t notice him at first.”
“Did you talk to him?”
“No. I froze.”
“Did he say anything to you?”
“He said my name, but that was it. He was just as stunned, I think. His eyes…”
“What about his eyes?”
“There was so much emotion in them. He was almost pleading with me without even saying anything. God, he looked so different.”
“Not in a bad way, just…new, I guess. He had tattoos on his hands, and I could see one on his neck. He didn’t have a single one when we were together. And he’s bigger now.”
“How did seeing him make you feel?”
I tried to find the right word. There was really only one way to describe it. “Alive.”
“Feelings that have been buried for years bombarded me all at once. As long as I didn’t have to see him, I could immerse myself into this life I’ve built with Kevin, but when he was right in front of me, it was just overwhelming. It made me realize that I hadn’t really moved forward. I’ve just been in a holding pattern, making believe it all never happened.”
“Name some of those feelings.”
“For leaving when things got rough because I couldn’t handle the pain. I knew he was going through hell too because of what that bitch did. He didn’t mean for it to happen, but I just couldn’t be there for him, couldn’t stand by and watch while she…” I shut my eyes.
Dr. Rhodes finished my sentence. “Had his baby.”
I nodded as a teardrop fell. Thinking about it never got easier. Saying it out loud was impossible.
My mother and Mitch’s mom had grown apart after Janis moved from across the street to live with her boyfriend in the next town over. They were also a bit divided because of what happened. So, my only connection to Mitch over the past five years had been Davey. He had explicit instructions not to tell me anything unless I asked, and he respected that because he understood how hard it was for me. I didn’t even have the courage to attend Davey and Zena’s wedding a couple of years ago out of fear that Mitch would be there.
All I knew was that Mitch had dropped out of BU, moved back to New Jersey and that Charisma gave birth to a boy who would now be about four-years-old. When Kevin’s job transferred him here from Maryland, I had to prepare myself for the fact that I’d have to face the things I had been running from. But I wanted to come home. I missed my mother. It was time.
“You did what you felt you had to do to survive, Skylar. There’s no telling that things would have been better off for him if you’d stayed. He would have had to deal with your pain as well as his own. You wouldn’t have been able to change the situation if you had stuck around. You knew what you could handle, and you made the decision that was best at the time.”
I picked the lint off my skirt. “Maybe.”
“Besides guilt, what else did you feel when you saw him?”
This was going to make me sound horrible. “Lust. We always had a strong physical connection. I’ve never felt anything like it with anyone else. I wanted to touch him, but I couldn’t.”
“Guilt, lust…what else?”
“Fear. That might have been the most prominent. I’m afraid of what he’s been through. I’m afraid that he hates me. I’m afraid he’s in love with someone. I’m afraid of the unknown, and I’m not sure I ever want to know everything.”
“What does Kevin know about Mitch?”
“He knows what happened before I left New Jersey, but he doesn’t know about the Target run-in. When I first moved to Maryland and met Kevin, he saw how broken I was. Mitch is not one of his favorite people to put it lightly, and it’s better if I keep this to myself.”
“You think he’d be upset?”
“I’m not very good at hiding my feelings. If I tell him about it, he’ll know.”
“He’ll know what?”
She adjusted her glasses. “That you’re still in love with Mitch.”
A couple of months after the Target incident, Kevin was preparing for his usual bimonthly business trip to Virginia. He would leave on a Tuesday night and come home on Friday. Kevin worked for a medical device company as a manufacturing manager. The reason for our move home was so that he could manage their new plant in New Jersey. He still had to travel back to his old office from time to time. I didn’t mind this because it gave us some space from each other. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be around him, but he liked everything just so: the house clean, a warm meal every night, and he wanted to have sex more than I did. It was kind of nice to be able to just lounge around after work, eat cereal for dinner and read my book.
“Have you seen my light blue dress shirt with the white lines?”
“It’s not in the closet. It’s got to be in the laundry.”
“Then, it’s dirty.”
“You haven’t done any laundry since last week? What have you been doing?”