Food, Cats, and Being in Love

I don't want to think about it
I don't want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom
Of the sea

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37. Chapter Thirty-Seven

Vincent’s apartment was always warm and toasty. Not like mine, which was drafty. Even though mine was much more expensive than his. Mine just had a better view and bigger windows. Otherwise, his was newer and had better insulation. I was used to falling asleep under a mountain of blankets and a chill in the air. Whenever he slept over, he was like my own personal space heater, keeping me warm by touching me.

And okay, maybe my inability to fall asleep had nothing to do with the fact that I wasn’t at home. I spent the night at his house almost as often as he was at mine. And I usually slept just fine. So, of course, my mind wouldn’t stop wandering.

Vincent was acting weird. I figured it was my fault though. He was nervous about what I was going to do. He was giving me more personal space than he usually did. Didn’t talk as much. Didn’t even try to get my pants off when we went to bed. It was almost disappointing. I wanted the distraction. But then again, I never wanted him to be a distraction. I just wanted things to go back to the way they were.

I decided to get up and walk around a bit. I climbed out of his bed and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. The cats were getting along famously. Every once in a while I would hear them dart through the house chasing each other and knocking into things. Reggie was having the time of his life. He finally had a friend other than me to play with. And I didn’t get a lot of chances to play with him anymore.

I’d plugged my phone in to charge while I was making dinner and never bothered to pick it up. Jaime and Kat were both so busy with school, I hardly ever talked to them. Kat knew about Vincent, but she didn’t know he was the same Vincent we’d gone to high school with. And Jaime had met Vincent and said he was good looking. But she didn’t know about our past. And neither of them knew about how difficult my family was making this. So I couldn't even guess what they'd think.

I finally worked up the courage to lift my phone. I scrolled through all the missed calls from Paige and my mom from the day before. And then I took a deep breath and opened the messages.

Paige wasn’t very good at hiding her emotions. Especially when she was upset. She started by immediately questioning me, and then got progressively angrier the longer I took to answer. The final message was from that morning. And all she’d said was, “I talked to Mom. I hope you’re happy.”

I wanted to talk to her and explain things to her. I tried to see this from her perspective, and I could totally understand why she’d be upset and hurt. Vincent wasn’t just some guy from her past. He was THE guy. He was her first love. Her first real relationship. Probably her first sexual partner too. They had a child together. Even though they didn’t keep her. She still existed. Paige carried her in her body for nine months and brought her into the world. I remembered sitting on the floor playing with Erin. She was like me when I was little. She was weird and playful, but she was Paige’s daughter. I could see Paige in her goofy smile. I could see Vincent in her eyes. And no matter how much I loved him, he’d still meant so much more to Paige than he meant to me. I’d betrayed her by seeing Vincent. I betrayed her by getting to know Erin behind her back.

I thought about what my mom said, and I wondered if that was what she really meant. That no matter what happened between Vincent and I there would always be Paige. Paige was his first love too. His first real relationship. Probably his first sexual partner. And he loved Erin. I could see that. Even though he didn’t get to raise her, she was still his. And he would always love Paige because of it.

My mom was right. It should never have been an option for me. I was being selfish. I wanted Vincent so bad. Maybe I hadn’t ever let him go. He was the first guy to treat me like I mattered. And now he was my first love too.

I was stupid for thinking it could work. I was awful for what I’d done to Paige.

I finished my glass of water and then returned to the bedroom to find some clothes. Vincent’s neighborhood was somewhat noisy, so he didn’t wake up unless he was jostled or the cats jumped on the bed. He didn’t hear me collect my clothes, and he didn’t even hear me fight to get Reggie back into his cage. I didn’t know what to say to him or what I could say that could even explain how I felt. I wanted him to know I loved him, and God, I might always love him. But he would never be mine. Not the way that he was Paige’s and she was his.

So I located a notepad in his kitchen and wrote the only thing I could think of that he would understand. And I hoped he knew how much I really meant it. “I’m sorry for everything,” I wrote. And I stuck it to his fridge with a magnet I’d gotten him for Christmas that was shaped like a camera. Then I got my bag and Reggie’s cage and left. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see him again.

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