Headlights

"Nothing lasts forever." It started with a tube of bright red lipstick and ended in the rain.

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8. Recovery

But this is going to take me down.

She followed Teagan’s blonde head through the crowd on the streets. Teagan, Teagan, Teagan… she was the best girlfriend Hailey could ask for. Teagan always knew what to do; after all, she was the one with virtually everything a girl would need in her handbag. And she’d know what to do to get over an ex.

But this was different. Teagan would never understand Calvin the way Hailey did. Teagan would never really know how she felt about him—hell, Teagan would even yell at her for not completely letting go.

Teagan turned to a little restaurant and stood by the entrance, waiting expectantly for Hailey. Hailey clutched her purse and hurried to join her, her ankles twisting and trembling from her high heels. God, these heels hurt like hell.

“This place is awesome,” Teagan said as she opened the door and walked in. Hailey had to walk especially quickly to avoid hitting herself with the door and sighed. Sometimes Teagan really had no sense of delicacy. “It has an amazing view of the Hudson, and I bet you that you won’t run into him here.” Her face twisted. “What an ass.”

Shut up, shut up, Hailey chanted in her head. You don’t understand anything that we had… But outwardly, she kept her expression placid and only fiddled with her tube of lipstick in her purse. “Yeah.”

The maître d’hôtel stood at a booth in front, smiling expectantly. “Good evening. Do you have a reservation here?”

Teagan nodded. “It’s under Boyle for two.”

Hailey’s thoughts drifted off as she and Teagan followed the maître through the tables inside, where people in suits and evening dresses were seated comfortably, chatting in a low hum. Teagan was so presumptuous… how could she know that Calvin wasn’t here? She may have fucked half of Manhattan, but that didn’t mean that she could make guarantees that she couldn’t ensure.

They stopped at a table next to the windows with a view of the Hudson River. As Hailey sat down, handing her coat to the maître, she agreed with Teagan mentally: the view was fantastic. In the fading light of winter dusk, the dark azure water of the river, spotted with a couple boats here and there, tumbled and rippled gently. She’d give anything to be outside on the patio right now, but Teagan had shot her a glance that said, Stay with me.

Hailey picked up her menu and gave up immediately. “You picked a French restaurant.”

“Their food is amazing.” Teagan shrugged, unapologetic. “I can translate for you if you’d like.”

Yeah, whatever; Teagan was a French major in college, after all. “Order for me. It doesn’t make a difference anyway.”

“Okay.” Teagan turned her head to the side, eyes scanning over the entire room coolly. “Mm, I don’t know where all the waiters are. I’m in the mood for some wine.” Looking back to Hailey, she asked, “What do you want?”

Hailey had had enough alcohol in the past few days. “I’ll have iced tea.”

“All right,” Teagan said, although her eyes said something like, Really? Iced tea? Live a little, will you?

“Stop it,” Hailey said. “I can choose not to drink, okay?”

Teagan rolled her eyes, but before she could say anything, a waiter came. Hailey held her tongue as she watched her friend rattle off French the way she would rattle off everything about Calvin. Ah, it still stung, but she would get over it—as long as she didn’t see him again.

She hoped.

Midway through their main courses, which had taken thirty minutes to follow their appetizers, Hailey looked up from her plate and watched a new party of people enter the room. Without looking up, Teagan said, “Don’t worry; it probably isn’t Calvin. This place is kind of obscure on the New York scene.”

Hailey barely held herself back from rolling her eyes at her friend. This place certainly was not obscure on the New York scene, judging by the way the entire room was filled with people save for a table reserved for five. The fact that Teagan was a middle school French tutor didn’t mean she knew everything about New York…

Hailey took another bite of her meunière and looked back at the party of men filing through, presumably to the reserved table. They were nothing of note, except for the last person, who looked too familiar to be true. “Teagan,” she whispered sharply. “You’re so, so wrong.”

“I didn’t know you got over him with another guy that easily,” Teagan said, looking up idly. “Where’s the new guy?”

“There is no new guy,” Hailey said back, her voice low. “It’s him. Damn it, why didn’t you pick one of the smaller establishments?”

“This is a smaller establishment,” Teagan said, frowning. Hailey didn’t feel like arguing with her about it, so she kept silent. “What in the world…?” Teagan turned, and dear God, she made eye contact with Calvin. Hailey wished she was invisible. She could already feel her cheeks heating up like they were on fire. She bent over her fish, spearing a piece with as much nonchalance as she could muster.

Teagan shrugged as she turned back to Hailey. “I don’t know. I think he’s still watching you.”

Hailey didn’t look up. “Wonderful. Thank you.”

“Look, I’m sorry.” Hailey snuck a glance at Teagan, who grimaced. “This place isn’t low-key at all; I just wanted to get an excuse to make you dress up and stop acting like a teenage girl.”

Yeah, she needed that. “Thank you,” Hailey murmured. “At least I don’t look like I’ve been crying over him these past few days, right?”

“I mean, you’re wearing that same black dress you were wearing when you met him.” Teagan took a bite of her own dish. “It’s pretty cute.”

These coincidences were too good to be true. Hailey looked up again to the table. Yes, that was Calvin in his suit and tie with his group of friends, whom she had met briefly. No girls. Thank God. He certainly didn’t look like he had been moping over her, but again… he wasn’t speaking as much as he normally did. She bit her lip as she watched him play with his phone, only glancing up every once in a while to nod or shrug.

He looked up suddenly, and those green eyes she hadn’t seen in so long met hers. Her breath stopped. Everything in the room between them didn’t matter anymore. Hailey ignored Teagan’s burning stare at her and put her fork down. Calvin… was it wrong for him to still be a breath of fresh air for her? She flushed even brighter as he smiled briefly, but softly, at her before looking down again.

Crashing waves of disappointment fell on her chest. She finally met Teagan’s eyes. “He doesn’t look as animated as usual. But he was texting someone.”

“Better not be some other bitch,” Teagan muttered, taking a sip of her wine. “He shouldn’t get over you that quickly either.”

Hailey shook her head. “Why wouldn’t he?”

“You try to hide it behind your lipstick, but you’re that pretty kind of girl next door, you know?”

Hailey had to pinch herself to keep from refreshing her lipstick right then. “I can’t be a sexy bitch?”

“Oh, shut up, will you?” Teagan rolled her eyes. “If it makes you feel better, you’re looking pretty hot tonight. They have a popular club in this building as well. Let’s hit it after dinner.”

She nodded. Maybe some vodka over there wouldn’t hurt, would it?

Teagan was right about the club.

The music was loud and pumping, pulsing through Hailey’s body like an electric current. There was no way she wasn’t going to drink at least five shots tonight, what with all the remixes and dubstep blasting over the speakers. In the dim light provided by the flashing strobe lights, she caught Teagan’s eye and nodded toward the bar. “Can I grab you something?” she shouted.

“The usual,” Teagan yelled back.

Oh, Teagan and her drinking habits…

She ordered a Cosmopolitan and a Manhattan on the rocks for herself and pushed through the crowd on the dance floor. The party started long before they had arrived, so she tried to avoid as many lethal-looking high heels as she could as the crowd jumped to the beat of the music. She found Teagan at the edge of the floor, standing by one of the little tables. She waved at Hailey, nodding toward the table. “Here, put them down.”

As soon as Hailey placed them down, Teagan grabbed her drink and downed it all in a gulp. She shrugged when she met Hailey’s eyes. “Get it over with so we can dance.”

Hailey nodded. She took a breath. Then she picked up the cup with as much gusto as she could muster and poured it down her throat. She stumbled down as soon as she finished, clutching onto the table. “That was strong,” she said in between coughs.

“You need to go drinking more often with me,” Teagan said, her hands on her hips. “Come on, let’s go!”

One of their favorite songs from the party days of college came on, and with the help of the Manhattan, Hailey forgot everything but the music. She didn’t care anymore if a random stranger decided to brush against her “accidentally”; that was a minor business. Tonight, she was going to do her best to forget, and if only alcohol didn’t help her achieve that, then the music and wild sex she remembered from college would do so.

She caught Teagan’s eyes over some waving arms and smiled. Teagan had let her hair down from her ballet bun and she was wrapped in a guy’s arms. She looked wildly at ease, her blonde hair flying as she popped a kiss on the guy’s lips. Teagan didn’t mention that she knew someone here… so that was why she took Hailey here.

She couldn’t be irritable with Teagan anymore. Maybe it was the alcohol or the music, but it was something else inside her, too. How had she let herself get angry at the world so easily? Teagan only tried to give Hailey the best she could, and this—drinking, barhopping, and partying—was it. God, she loved Teagan so much for this. She deserved to be happy with that stranger, who looked a lot like a guy from her workplace. How funny.

Someone grabbed her hand, and she spun around immediately. That was new. Bars weren’t for falling in love; they were for spur-of-the-moment decisions that weren’t always smart. Hailey met the person’s eyes—they were green, green like the woods near the Hudson River.

She let her lips fall slightly open. Calvin… his eyes were so clear, and his face was, God, as beautiful as she remembered. He was what she had needed these past few days; he was what she had denied herself these past few days.

Behind him were his friends, who were trying their best to look inconspicuous as they stood in the corner, watching the pair of them closely. “Are they going to beat me up?”

His lips cracked into a smile. “No. They’re… worried. I told them to grab some chicks while they were waiting…”

“Some of them have girlfriends.” This was the sort of easy conversation that she couldn’t have with anyone else. Was this to be her last with him?

He shook his head. She took the chance to stare at him as she took in shallow breaths only because of his cologne. That ruffled dark hair, the sculpted jaw, the high cheekbones… He was still wearing the coat jacket, but the tie was loosened around his neck. He looked like an executive ready to let go of his worries—was she one of those worries?

“Let’s not talk about them. Can we go somewhere a little more private?”

He led her through the crowd, still holding her hand. She was still lost in her thoughts. This couldn’t be reality. Did he follow her to this club just to speak to her? Reality wasn’t a movie; this was much too close to a daydream. She had to choose whether she wanted to believe or not, and she chose to believe.

They were in the back of the club, close to the bathrooms but in a secluded corner. As soon as they were alone, he pressed her against the wall, like he had that night when she left him, and kissed her. Her arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him as close to her as they could. If this was to be her last shot of him, she was going to enjoy it. She bit his lower lip gently, and obliging, he deepened the kiss. It was a long time before they broke apart, gasping for air.

He still leaned his forehead against hers, a familiar gesture. She rubbed her nose against his, sighing gently. “Tell me what you need.”

“I don’t know.” His eyes met hers. “I needed to see you.”

“We’re over, Calvin.”

He let out a long breath. “I have issues, I know, but God… Hailey…”

“Tell me what you needed to tell me.”

“I still have your purse, and… I don’t know if you remember, but I still have those tickets to the theater. One of them is under your name. I…”

“I’ll go with you.” She didn’t know why she responded so quickly, but she pressed on. “It’ll be one last date.”

His eyes were still clear, but somehow, they were a little sadder. “If you insist.”

She couldn’t let herself get wrapped in emotions for him, not anymore. So she kissed him again and let go.

.

This is nearing the end! I shall hopefully update today again, but tomorrow is the last day. One of my readers on my other writing platform actually guessed correctly with the set of songs, which I'll reveal tomorrow!

Thank you to you guys for following along with me while I was (and am) embarking on this little writing project. It's still certainly very rough and I'll have to edit later, but I'm proud of it! Happy New Years Eve to all :)

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