119,051
07.03.2019

Breathing hard, I leave the building. I get on my bike and ride—fast and sharp. Probably not the best idea at the moment, but I do it anyway. I get through the tunnel, onto the turnpike, where traffic is thankfully scarce.

And I really open her up. The wind blows so cold and harsh, my face goes numb. But it’s a good thing. Because feeling nothing is so much better than feeling the loss. Of what Dee and I had—of everything we could’ve had.

I ride for hours. Trying to let go. Trying to forget today . . . and the entire four weeks that came before it.

I park my bike in the garage and climb off—stiff and frozen from the ride. I didn’t think I was hoping that Delores would be here, waiting. That she’d realize she made a terrible mistake and show up at my door to beg and apologize. Especially the begging part.

But I realize it’s exactly what I was hoping for . . . when I reach my apartment door and she’s not there.

And the disappointment is crushing.

The letdown intensifies when I scroll through the missed calls on my phone and see that none of them are from Dee.

But I’m not tempted to call her.

I’m frustrated, and I miss her—but I’m not calling. I’m not chasing her. Not this time. Not ever again, if it comes to that.

Drew hasn’t returned my calls either. I’m looking forward to work tomorrow, where I’ll see him, get the story . . . and most likely punch him in his stupid face. That’ll make me feel better.

Don’t worry—I won’t actually do any damage. Even though he doesn’t box as often as I do, Drew’s no wuss. He can take care of himself. And unlike Delores’s and my relationship, our friendship will survive. A few punches, between friends, really isn’t that big of a deal.

I have no appetite, so I skip dinner. I just take a shower and collapse—naked and wet—into my bed. But when my face burrows into the pillow, I smell her. The scent of her skin, her hair—it’s sweet and spicy, apples and cinnamon, distinct.

And it makes my chest ache.

Instead of getting up and sleeping on the couch, like I probably should, I pull the pillow closer and wrap the sheets tighter—surrounding myself in Dee’s memory—until I fall asleep.

Kind of pathetic, right?

Yeah, I f**king think so too.

Tuesday morning, I drag my ass into work—grumpy, disheveled, and feeling shitty—even though I slept like a rock. There, I hear all about the show Billy Warren put on for Kate in the lobby, and I wonder if they got back together. As far as grand gestures go, you don’t get much grander than a public serenade and a lobby full of flowers. But if Kate is back with Billy, why would she give two shits about what Drew thinks or feels about her?

Throughout the rotten day, I check to see if Drew shows up. He doesn’t. And I wonder if he really is sick. Or if whatever happened between him and Kate—and the possibility that she went back to her ex right after—busted him up more than he let on.

I spend my time wondering about that . . . so I don’t have time to think about Dee. But, of course, my mind finds a way to squeeze thoughts of her in.

Plentiful, pain-bringing thoughts.

About where she is—what she’s feeling. If there’s any way she’s doing as badly as I am.

Erin gathers Steven, Jack O’Shay, and me together and asks us to cover for Drew while he’s out. Like the man himself, his clients are f**king spoiled, and they tend to freak out if he isn’t close by to hold their hands. I take a couple of his files because, even though I think he’s a shithead at the moment, I’m not gonna let his career tank over it.

The extra work makes the day go faster, and before I know it, it’s quitting time. I go to the gym—even though I’m feeling craptastic—and undergo a brutal workout and sparring session.

Because this is what most guys do when they’re hurting. Punish themselves or—like the barking boss in desperate need to get laid—everyone around them.

After the gym, I stop by Drew’s apartment again, significantly calmer than last night. He still doesn’t answer the door, but this time, I hear the television on inside. Sounds like he’s watching Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

I pound on the door. “Open up, jerk-off.”

The only response I hear is the growl of Sex Panther—a punch line from the movie. I knock again. “Come on, douche bag. You’re not the only one with problems, you know.”

When he still doesn’t answer, I genuinely start to worry. “Drew, you seriously need to give me a sign here. If not, I’m going to assume you’re actually dying and call nine-one-one.”

A minute goes by. Then another. And just as I’m about to pull out my phone, something bangs against the inside of the door. Like it was purposely thrown against it. A baseball maybe.

Bam.

“Drew? Was that you?”

Bam.

“Do you need me to bust the door down?”

Bam . . . Bam.

I think for a moment. Then, to make sure I’m right, I ask, “So it’s once for yes, twice for no?”

Bam.

Guess it’ll frigging have to do for now. I sit on the floor and lean my back up against Drew’s door. And I start to talk, ask yes and no questions—feeling kind of like an idiot. Like some teenager in a horror movie, communicating with the other side through a Ouiji Board, who’s too much of a moron to remember those interactions never end well.

“Erin said you texted her. Do you really have the flu?”

Bam.

“Did you and Kate hook up last weekend?”

Bam.

“Was it as good as you imagined?”

Bam . . . Bam.

You might be confused by his answer. I’m not.

“Was it even better?”

There’s a meaningful pause. And then . . . Bam.

“Were you a dick to her afterwards?”

Bam . . . Bam.

No. So Dee did have it wrong. But then, Drew elaborates. Sort of.

Bam.

No and yes. Drew was a dick to Kate . . . but he seems to think he had a reason to be. I move on.

“Delores broke up with me. Because of the way you treated Kate. And I was really into her, man. I . . . I fell in love with her.” My voice gets stronger. Irritated. “Do you even care? Are you f**king sorry at all?”

There’s another meaningful pause. Then . . . Bam.

Although his remorse is nice to hear, it doesn’t help me at all. And, the bottom line is, it wasn’t really Drew that ended Dee and I. That was all on us. Her refusal to trust me . . . my refusal to keep trying to earn it.

❮❯