New York City – July 1st, 2013
“Aww, Elvis! I miss you so much!” Audrey yelped as Nick’s dog came into view of his webcam.
“He misses you too, Aud,” Nick chuckled, ruffling the fur on the top of Elvis’ head as the two of them lounged on Nick’s bed.
Audrey and Nick were catching up with each other on a random Skype chat since they lived clear across the country from one another. It was important to them to keep their friendship, to work at it and be there for each other no matter what. It was a few weeks since they’d spoken outside of text messages and they decided, as they both were winding down from their day, to have a chat date.
“You know, this is a weird angle of you,” Audrey snickered.
“What do you mean?” He asked, propping his head up with his hands behind it.
“I don’t know, just… I can see up your nose, dude,” she giggled.
Audrey I watched as Nick pushed up the end of his nose with his thumb, causing her to giggle even more.
“You like that?” He chuckled, sitting up slightly to appease her.
“Attractive, Nicholas,” she laughed.
“Thought so,” he said, giving her a genuine smile.
Audrey looked down on her desk, checking her phone once again for a text, for anything from Joe. She hadn’t heard from him all day.
“Oh, hey! How’s Joe?” Nick asked immediately, seeming to sense exactly what and who was on her mind.
“I don’t know. I haven’t heard from him all day,” she said, giving him a frown.
“What are you talking about?” He asked, his eyebrows furrowed.
“He hasn’t returned my calls or texts,” she told him.
“But you saw him last night though, right?” Nick asked.
“What?” Audrey asked, knitting her eyebrows together in confusion. How would she have seen him?
“Uh…” Nick said awkwardly.
“What do you mean, I saw him last night?” She asked for clarification.
“He didn’t come see you?” Nick asked cautiously.
“Joe’s here? In New York?” Audrey choked out.
“He uh… him and his friends flew out yesterday,” Nick informed her.
Her heart dropped as worse-case-scenarios flooded the little black box of her mind. Was he okay? And if he was okay, what the hell was he doing? What the hell was he doing that was more important than seeing his girlfriend? Who was more important to be with then being with his girlfriend? Did their relationship mean anything to him anymore? And really, she didn’t care that he wanted to spend time with his friends, but the least he could have done was called her to let her know. Or answered her phone calls.
“Audrey, I can see your face. I can see how much you’re freaking out right now,” Nick said in a warning tone.
Her eyes flitted up to the screen to see that Nick was now sitting closer to the webcam, looking straight at her.
“I’m sure he has a perfectly good explanation,” Nick assured.
“He… he hasn’t even called. Why wouldn’t he call?” She panicked.
“I talked to him today. He’s okay,” Nick informed her.
“He called you?” She choked out.
“No. I called him,” Nick told her. He answered Nick’s calls, but wouldn’t answer hers?
“Oh my god,” Audrey breathed, almost inaudibly.
“Audrey…” Nick said again.
She picked up her phone and dialed Joe’s number immediately.
“Audrey…” Nick said again, but she ignored him.
“Yo. Call me back. I probably didn’t hear it ring,” Joe’s simple voicemail message rang in her ears, causing the bile to rise in the back of her throat.
“Voicemail,” she said, looking up at Nick again.
“Audrey, I’m sure—” Nick started, but she cut him off.
“Call him,” she said.
“What?” Nick asked.
“Call him right now,” she told Nick.
“Audrey, come on,” Nick said.
“Call him. I need to know what the hell is going on, Nick,” she snapped, feeling like a crazy person all of a sudden.
“Alright, alright,” Nick said, grabbing his phone off the bed.
“Put it on speaker,” she told him. Nick sighed, but did as Audrey asked.
“Yo. Call me back. I probably didn’t hear it ring,” they both heard Joe’s voicemail come through.
“Where is he?” She said, feeling slightly relieved that he was ignoring Nick as well.
“I don’t know, Audrey. Everything is going to be alright,” Nick said.
“Who is he with?” She asked.
“I don’t know. Wilmer and some friends. Probably Kyle,” Nick shrugged.
“Ooh. I hate Wilmer,” Audrey scowled immediately.
“Yeah, he’s not exactly the best influence on Joe,” Nick agreed.
“Joe’s an idiot,” Audrey scoffed, rolling her eyes.
“He can be,” Nick agreed.
Wilmer was a shitty friend. He pretty much used everyone he could and discarded them when he couldn’t leech any more from them. He manipulated everyone in to giving him exactly what he wanted. He was a total sleazebag and knew she felt that way about him. Joe knew it too. Apparently the pair of them just didn’t care.
“I’m never going to be able to get to sleep now,” Audrey said, looking at the clock that read one a.m.
“You really should, Aud. No good can come from staying up all night worrying about it,” Nick told her.
“Nick, he’s been in New York for a day and a half and hasn’t bothered to even call to tell me that fact. Your advice really doesn’t hold much clout,” Audrey scoffed.
“Please, Audrey,” Nick said, looking genuinely worried about her.
“I’m fine, Nick,” she said, shaking her head lightly, feeling so uncertain about everything she held dear.
“Just, give me a call when you finally get ahold of him,” Nick told her.
“If I get ahold of him,” she corrected.
“Try to get some sleep, Audrey. I’ll try him again in a little bit,” Nick advised.
“I’ll talk to you later, Nick,” she told him.
“Alright,” he nodded seconds before Audrey closed the top of her lap top to end the conversation.
She spent a long while pacing her apartment floor, biting her nails, trying to come up with an explanation that would leave her satisfied with Joe ignoring her this much. What did she do? They spoke the other night and everything was just fine. She saw him two weeks ago when he was in New York for a visit, what was so important that he needed to come back here so soon – and with Wilmer, ugh.
Just as she felt like her brain might explode with all the heartbreaking scenarios, her ring tone ripped through the silence of the room, causing her to jump.
“Fuck,” she gasped, looking at her phone that was sitting on her desk.
Joe’s face flashed across it and she dove for it.
“Joe?” She answered quickly.
“Hey, baby,” his voice came out high pitched, with a long drawl and she knew immediately that he was drunk.
Audrey took a deep breath, reining herself in before she started drilling him on his whereabouts.
“Hi,” she said finally.
“I saw you called,” he told her.
“Did you see it the other 30 times I called?” She snapped, realizing she could only rein herself in so far.
“I’m sorry, I’ve… I just been… busy… with the guys,” he told her.
“With the guys?” She questioned.
“Yeah. We’re in New York,” he confessed.
“Mm-hmm,” she breathed, knowing she was the last to know.
“Isn’t that exciting, baby? I’m in New York. Twice in one month,” he said. It would be exciting if she actually got to see him. Right now, not so much.
“You’ve been in New York since last night,” Audrey pointed out.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. She sighed, trying not to be the biggest bitch on the planet, but it was really hard because she was so incredibly annoyed.
“I mean, don’t you think you maybe should have given me a call somewhere between then and now? Even just to let me know, to just care enough to let me know,” she said, feeling all her emotions building up.
“I can come see you,” he told her.
“Now?” She choked out.
“Yeah. I want to,” he said.
“It’s past one, Joe,” she told him.
“Oh. Do you have class tomorrow?” He asked.
“No,” she said.
“Then, can I please come over? I really miss you,” he said in a pleading voice, literally causing her to weaken immediately to him.
“Fine,” she sighed.
“Less than a half an hour, I swear. I’ll catch a cab and I’m there, baby!” He said excitedly.
“Alright,” she giggled.
“I LOVE YOU!” He shouted over the phone.
“I love you too,” she giggled.
“Bye!” He said, making a kissing noise before he hung up the phone.
Audrey couldn’t help but smile at his randomness and feel the excitement that he was on his way over to see her. She dialed Nick’s number quickly and told him she talked to Joe and that everything was okay.
Thirty-two minutes later, Joe was buzzing her door for her to let him up. Another minute later, she was opening up her door to him and he was opening up his arms to her.
His lips were on hers immediately, bringing out the seduction right off the bat. As much as she loved and missed it, a simple hello was what she was itching for. She wanted to see him. She wanted to talk to him. SHe wanted to hear what was going on in his life since the last time they spoke.
“Jesus… booty call,” she said, dodging his lips.
“What about a Jesus booty call?” Joe snickered.
“Ha. Ha. You’re funny,” she said, squirming out of his tight grasp, but staying in his arms.
“I kind of just want to talk, baby. I miss you so much,” she told him, trying to keep things light.
“Okay. Let’s talk,” he said, dropping his arms away from her, walking toward the kitchen in her tiny studio apartment.
“Who are you here with?” She asked him curiously.
“Uh, Wilmer and some buddies,” he said with a shrug as he opened up the fridge and peered inside.
“Ah,” she said, nodding her head, leaning forward against the small center island counter.
“He invited me out, so I came,” Joe said, still gazing into the fridge.
“Sounds like fun,” Audrey said, trying not to be too sarcastic.
“Yeah,” Joe agreed.
“Where are you staying?” She asked, already knowing the answer.
“Nick’s,” he said. It was where he always stayed in New York when he wasn’t with her.
“Ah,” she said, nodding her head.
“Sorry I didn’t call,” he said, looking over at her quickly before his focus went back to the contents of her fridge.
“What is so interesting in there?” Audrey chuckled, watching him.
“What?” Joe asked, looking up, closing the fridge door.
“You’re going to spoil all my food,” she joked.
Joe’s eyebrow furrowed like he didn’t get the joke, but he shrugged it off and moved around the counter walking toward her couch. She watched him, looking at him oddly. Something was up and she wasn’t quite sure what to make of his eccentric behavior.
“Did I pull you away from something?” Audrey asked him, not even bothering to move away from the center island.
“What? No,” Joe said, waving her off as he looked at the framed pictures on her wall like he’d never seen them before.
“What is going on?” She asked him curiously.
“What do you mean?” He asked, looking at her for a moment before moving onto the next picture on the wall.
“Did you come over to do a home inspection or to spend time with your girlfriend?” Audrey asked impatiently.
“You are sure saying some weird things tonight,” he told her.
“You’re acting odder than usual,” she countered.
“Odder than usual?” He questioned, turning toward her.
“Is there something you want to say to me?” She asked him.
“What? No,” he said, furrowing his eyebrow.
“What is going on? First you fly to New York and conveniently forget to call me to tell me you’re here. And now you come over and you put all your attention into avoiding me,” she said.
“Avoiding you?” He questioned.
“If you have something to say to me, then say it,” she said, feeling incredibly vulnerable and sick to her stomach, sure that he was feeling less and less effected by their relationship, like he wanted out.
“I don’t have anything to say,” he said.
“If you don’t want to… if you don’t want…” Audrey choked out as tears formed in her eyes.
“Audrey,” he sighed.
“Just say it,” she said as her bottom lip quivered with emotion.
“Say what?” He asked, sounding exasperated.
“Are you one foot out the door, Joe? Is this… are we…” She choked out.
“Audrey, no. Aud. Come on,” Joe said, taking a few steps toward her.
“You’re acting so weird,” she told him.
“I’m just tired. Come on. Let’s go to bed,” Joe offered, grabbing her forearm lightly.
She looked up in his eyes and he almost immediately looked away from her.
“God,” she said, ripping her arm from his grasp, feeling so frustrated with him.
“Audrey,” he gasped, caught off guard by her sudden outburst.
“There’s something wrong, Joe! You’re not telling me something! What is it!?” She growled.
“Audrey, there’s nothing wrong!” He said defensively, dodging her stare.
“STOP DOING THAT THEN!” She said as the tears broke through.
“Doing what!?” He growled.
“You can’t even look me in the eye!” She told him.
“Audrey,” he said, grabbing onto both of her arms, steadying himself in front of her, letting his eyes bore into hers.
“Everything is fine. I love you, you love me. We’re in love,” he said, trying to reassure her. But the moment she looked into his eyes, her heart sank.
His pupils were dilated and his eyes were bloodshot. Mixed with his erratic behavior, Audrey was certain his one-time run-in with cocaine wasn’t just one time after all.
“You’re… Joe… you’re high,” she choked out.
“What?” He scoffed, dropping her arms from his grasp.
“You’re high,” she said again, trying to study his eyes and behavior all at once.
“Audrey, no,” he said, taking a step back.
“You can’t sit still. You can’t even look at me,” she pointed out.
“Audrey, no,” he said more firmly this time.
“How long have you… how long has this been going on?” She choked out.
He let out a dark laugh, running his hands down his face.
“How long have you been doing it, Joe?” She asked more demanding.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” he scoffed.
“I KNOW WHAT THE FUCK I’M TALKING ABOUT, JOE! I can see it plain as fucking day!” Audrey yelled at him.
“You think I would come here if I was high?” He asked.
“Is that why you didn’t call yesterday?” She called him out. He scoffed, letting out another dark chuckle, avoiding her eyes once again.
“You’re lying,” she said quietly.
“I’m not fucking lying, Audrey!” He yelled at her, louder than he ever had before.
“You fucking tell me, Joe! You fucking tell me right now!” She said as her voice cracked with raw emotion.
“God damn it,” he growled, running his hands down his face again.
“Joe,” she cried.
He gripped his fingers in his hair, letting out a growl before he threw his hands down at his sides.
“If you’re just going to sit here and accuse me of shit…” He started, pausing for her to interject. But she didn’t.
“God, Audrey,” he sighed, but she stayed silent.
“I’m outta here,” he said finally as he moved passed her toward the door.
And she let him go. She didn’t even try to stop him.
Los Angeles – August 15th, 2012
“It’s my birthday,” Joe smiled at Audrey as they lay in his bed, just waking up that morning.
“Happy birthday,” she beamed a smile at him, leaning in to kiss his lips.
“Are you going to spoil me all day long?” Joe smiled back.
“That was the plan,” she nodded.
“So then, we’re staying in bed all day long, right?” Joe smirked suggestively.
“All day?” She giggled.
“Yeah,” he chuckled.
“Not all day,” she laughed, rolling her eyes.
“But all morning, right?” He asked, smiling at her.
“I could make you breakfast in bed,” she told him.
“Naked breakfast in bed?” He said, lifting up the blanket to get a good look at her beautiful body.
“If that’s what you desire,” she giggled.
“What I desire is to eat you for breakfast,” he told her, leaning his body toward hers.
“Oh!” She giggled as he pulled her into his arms.
Joe’s lips trailed up the long expanse of her neck, nipping and sucking before he moved to her lips, kissing her hard. His free hand slid smoothly up her naked side before he worked it between their bodies and moved it back down.
“Oh god, Joe,” Audrey breathed with his hands on her.
“I love you so much,” he breathed in her ear, reminding her once again.
“Mmm, Joe. I-I love you too,” she stammered as pleasure raced through her body.
Joe’s mouth moved down her chest, down her stomach, before he got lost beneath the blankets, letting himself at her. She writhed beneath him as moans rolled out of her throat. There was nothing better than making this girl go crazy. He had no higher desire in life.
“Christ, Joe,” Audrey breathed, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath.
“It’s not over yet,” he smirked at her as he moved up her body.
“Whose birthday is it?” She asked, almost as an after-thought as Joe continued what he started.
Joe spent the next half an hour inside her warmth, wrapped up in her arms, listening to her quiet whimpers and deep moans.
“Happy birthday to me,” he said as he collapsed onto the bed next to her afterward.
“Why does it feel like I just got the present?” Audrey giggled, looking over at him with her hand resting on her forehead.
“Believe me. You letting me do that whenever I want is the best present in the world,” Joe chuckled, swallowing what little saliva was left in his mouth after that.
There was a thin layer of perspiration wrapping Audrey’s entire body causing her to glow in the sunlight of the room. She looked like an angel with that perfect smile on her face and stars in her eyes. An angel that Joe would do anything for, do anything to keep next to him. She made his birthday so much better on every level. Having her there with him in Los Angeles for the past week was the best present he could ever ask for.
“I don’t want you to go home,” Joe said aloud, feeling the twinge of heartache that he was sure to feel when they were forced to say goodbye.
“I don’t want to go home,” she said as her face fell with his depressing words.
“Stay. Stay forever,” he told her, pulling her back against his body.
“I wish I could,” she sighed.
“You can. Just stay,” he told her.
“Joe…” She said sadly.
“I’d take care of you. You wouldn’t have to worry about anything ever again,” Joe told her with an air of excitement in his voice.
He couldn’t be sure if he was just riding high off of the endorphins in his system or if it was truly what he wanted right then and there. Sure he and Audrey had only been seeing each other for three months and they only knew each other for five months, but Joe knew he loved her. He knew he would do anything to protect her. But he also knew deep down, that living together was a step he wasn’t quite ready to make.
“Joe that’s crazy,” she scoffed playfully.
“I know. But it would be amazing, wouldn’t it?” Joe said, smiling at her.
“It would be,” she agreed.
“We’d get to see each other every day. I’d get to go to sleep with you every night and wake up to you every morning,” Joe said, imagining it.
“I have a feeling I’d be sore more often than not,” she snickered.
“Dirty girl,” Joe chuckled, squeezing her in his arms.
“Tell me I wouldn’t,” she said, quirking an eyebrow.
“Oh, you would. You most definitely would,” he told her honestly.
“Someday, huh? Someday we can have all of that,” she said finally, relaxing against him, her ear pressed against his chest.
“Someday,” he breathed.
Joe didn’t exactly know what it meant, but with Audrey, he could see it all. He could see them living together. He could see them getting married and starting a family. Never, with any other girlfriend had he even given it a thought, but with Audrey it came so easily.
He wanted to be a better man for her.