“Ready to make dinner, Emma?”
She looked up at Roy from the couch, tossing her course packet to the side. A quick glance at her watch revealed that it was already 7:30 pm. How was it already that late? She had felt like shit ever since she got home that afternoon and hadn’t been able to concentrate much on the case studies she had to read for the next day.
Her thoughts had kept racing back to Max and the look on his face when he found out she had a boyfriend. She didn’t think she had necessarily led him on up until that point. Sure, they had gotten into heated arguments that were borderline flirtatious, but she didn’t think she had done or said anything that would make him think she was available or on the market. All she really wanted was to put herself out there and make new friends on her own. Surely it was way too early for him to have any feelings towards her. Right?
Dismissing her thoughts, she got up and looked towards Roy. “What were you thinking of having?”
“Something simple like a chicken and avocado salad. Actually, would you mind preparing it tonight? I really want to hit the gym.”
“I thought we had agreed this would be our set time to spend together,” she pointed out. She knew moving to another country and attending grad school together would be difficult for a couple, and as such had laid out some ground rules for them. Their schedules would be so jammed packed, she wanted to make sure they still made time for each other.
“I know. I just could really use the gym right now. I’ll be quick and be back for dinner. We’ll talk then?” he said, kissing her head and quickly walking out the door.
He didn’t even give her a chance to answer. She should have known what he was up to, but hadn’t noticed his workout clothes until he left. Ugh, sometimes she thought he was married to the damn gym.
“Sure, honey,” she belatedly said under her breath, suddenly feeling like some Stepford wife who was supposed to acquiesce and cater to her husband’s needs. Deciding it was best to not put up a fight, she headed over to the kitchen and prepared dinner by herself. She did enjoy cooking after all. She just hoped it wouldn’t become an everyday occurrence.
Ever since she made the decision, she wasn’t fully convinced it was the best choice to move to Spain. At the time, she hadn’t considered ever going to grad school. But then Roy had applied and had been accepted and next thing she knew she had also gotten in. He convinced her to go together after realizing she probably wouldn’t get another opportunity like this again, so she just decided to go for it.
Her dad had been very much opposed to the idea. He didn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to just study in the United States, which had much better schools according to him. Most likely true, but it wasn’t always the case. On top of that, she was moving with her boyfriend, who he hadn’t even met yet and sure as hell didn’t know they had been living together for the past year. She had never had a good relationship with her father. Ever since her mother had died, she felt like all she ever did was disappoint him.
In the end, she had gone against her father’s wishes and her better judgment. Now she was simply that girl. The one who followed a boy somewhere else in the hopes that it would all work out. She just really hoped it did.
There was a soft knock on the door and she was surprised Roy had actually kept his word and made it a quick workout session. But when she answered it, she found Professor Bernabe standing there instead.
She had bumped into him at the supermarket earlier after Roy had bailed on her with some lame excuse, only to realize he was a law professor at the school and just so happened to live in the apartment right next door. It wasn’t entirely coincidental as they actually lived at a school residential building, so they were bound to run into other students and faculty at some point.
“Hi, Emma. I just realized I took one of your bags by mistake. I would have brought it earlier, but I didn’t get to putting everything away until now,” he said.
“Oh, thank you, Professor. I didn’t even notice. Thanks again for helping me with my bags,” she responded taking the white plastic sack from him.
More like he had insisted on it, and then was stuck making small talk with him all the way back to the apartment. He seemed nice enough, but there was something a bit creepy about him. Maybe it was his semi-robotic voice, or the way his hair was evenly split down the middle. He just seemed like one of those intellectual loner types in their late thirties who had never had a real relationship.
“Please, call me Samuel,” he smiled awkwardly.
“Okay … Samuel.”
“You should try getting some Manchego next time. It’s much better than American cheese, in my opinion anyway. I didn’t mean to snoop, but that’s how I noticed the bag wasn’t mine.”
It took Emma a while to react. “Oh, right. I live with a picky eater so my options are limited sometimes, but I’ll keep that in mind.” Before he could engage in more conversation, she quickly added, “Well, have a good night.”
“You too. I hope you and your boyfriend have a good evening,” he responded before taking off.
As she shut the door, she thought about how that had sounded a bit strange. She had mentioned Roy to him, but only because he was asking so many damn questions about her. He just seemed all too interested in the fact that she was American and thought her life was really compelling for some reason. She wondered if now he thought she had made it up as the boyfriend in question clearly wasn’t there.
Speaking of which, where the hell was he?
She waited for Roy to come back, and sure enough it wasn’t until an hour later. By the time he showed up, she was seriously pissed off but did her best to hide her disappointment.
“So what was up with that guy today?” he asked as they sat down to dinner.
Great, not another interrogation. Of course this would be the first and only thing he would pick up on. “I told you, he’s just someone from class,” she said curtly.
“Well, he obviously likes you. Didn’t know you had a boyfriend either,” he pointed out.
“Can you not start with this? I’ve known him for less than a day,” she said, poking her salad around with a fork.
“Still, you could have mentioned it, don’t you think?” he accused.
She dropped her fork back on her plate. “What, you want me to walk up to every single person I meet and be like – Hi, I’m Emma. I have a boyfriend who will kick your ass?”
“Yes, that actually sounds pretty good to me,” he said in between a mouthful.
“Roy! I’m never going to make any friends that way. You knew this would happen. It’s part of the whole ‘moving to another country’ process. You meet new people along the way. As if you haven’t already met a ton of people, and I have no clue who they are.”
“Yeah, well none that were looking at me the way he was looking at you.”
“He wasn’t looking at me like anything.”
“Why do you keep defending him? Jesus Emma, he was two seconds away from trying to take me down. That is, until he saw who he was up against,” he added with a grin on his face.
“Can we just drop it? There’s no point in talking about this anymore. He backed off and that’s the end of the story. Congratulations. Mission accomplished. One more person who will never speak to me again.”
“Drop the sarcasm, Em.”
“Well, you drop the jealously. I’m gonna meet a lot of people, Roy. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna jump the first guy who talks to me.”
“You would like that, wouldn’t you?”
“God, you’re impossible. Think about what you just said and how highly insulting that is,” she said pushing her plate aside and standing up. Suddenly she wasn’t hungry anymore. “Enjoy the rest of your dinner.”
She walked into the bedroom, not before slamming the door and curling up inside the bed and drawing the covers over her head. This wasn’t good. She couldn’t remember ever getting into a fight like that with him. What the hell was going on?
Moments later, she heard the door creak open and the other side of the mattress sink down. She felt the covers being lifted and she was suddenly being turned around to face him.
“Emma, I’m sorry,” he said gently. “What I said was out of line. I’m sorry if I get possessive sometimes. You’re just really beautiful and I see how guys look at you and it drives me crazy.”
“Yeah, well you don’t have to insult me in the process,” she said weakly.
“I know. I’m really sorry, babe. I don’t want it to be like this.”
He lifted her face and looked into her eyes. “It won’t be. I promise,” he said, kissing her on the lips.
She nodded in agreement, but somehow she couldn’t believe his words. Nothing about today had felt right to her. It was very unsettling.
“I love you, Em. I want to make this work.”
“Love you too, Roy,” she sighed. “Just stop being an a-hole, okay? You’ve been like this all day.”
“I’ll always be an a-hole Em,” he said jokingly. “An a-hole who is completely in love with you. I can swear by that entirely.”
“That makes me feel so much better.”
“Good,” he said, ignoring her sarcasm. He pulled her out of bed and set her on her feet. “C’mon, let’s go finish dinner. I want to hear about the rest of your day. I’m sure you kicked major ass.”
“That I did,” she said, but didn’t find any real satisfaction in that. Especially when she thought back to the one particular person’s ass she had kicked. If only he could find somewhere in his heart to forgive her. After today, she had the feeling she would really need a friend to survive this pace.