“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. But this is simply what I have to do. I know… I know you don’t understand. I hope someday you will. I hope… you won’t hate me forever.” Tears fell freely from my eyes and my words seemed to echo in my mind as if they had been yelled in a vacant cathedral. I found a small sense of irony as that image flickered through my thoughts on account of what I was doing felt more than a little sacrilegious. My stare became blank, lifeless. Hopeless.
What was I doing? This was a mistake. How could I possibly walk away from somebody I loved so much – someone who had changed my life so completely? No. I should stop. Turn around. And run back into his arms. That was the right thing to do. Wasn’t it? He would welcome me back. He would understand, I was sure of it. Maybe not at first, but eventually. We would cry on each other’s shoulders. I would tell him how stupid I had been, and everything would be okay.
Because running back to him would mean I would have to turn my back on…
I should have seen this coming. Any sane person in my position would have. But I ignored all of the signs warning me that all of this would blow up in my face. And of course it had, because that’s what happens when you take advantage of somebody. But when you’re happy you become so blinded by it that you forget it can’t stay that way forever. Your world soon begins to crumble at the edges until the whole thing becomes so unsteady that it has no choice but to finally come crashing down around you. And, if you’re lucky, you just barely make it out alive.
So. Was I lucky? I hardly knew at this point. I was breathing – albeit unsteadily. But the impending panic attack threatening my system was bound to change that. Then my universe would inevitably implode. Nothing would ever be the same. I just needed to hold myself together until I was alone.
“I’m so sorry,” I repeated the words, praying it would give them some kind of meaning – some actual weight that might register with the man falling apart before me. They were acid on my tongue. It’s not that I didn’t mean them. I did. I just hated that I had ever gotten us to this point of complete loss and heartache. If there were words more sincere, more powerful than “sorry”, I would have been repeating them instead. But there was nothing that could cure this ache. There was no Band-Aid to cover this bullet wound.
This wasn’t real. Couldn’t be real. I loved this man more than I had words to express. Yet I was walking away from him. Bile rose from my stomach into my throat as I watched him cry in front of me.
“I know this is stupid and it doesn’t make sense to you now. I know you think I’m making a huge mistake. And who knows, maybe I am. But it’s something I have to do. If it’s a mistake, I need to make it for myself.” I was rambling, and doing more harm than good, I knew. So to stop myself, I turned my back on him for the final time, while scorching tears burned trails through my makeup. I never heard him speak to stop me, so I staggered forward. To the future I had chosen.
In an attempt to quite literally hold myself together, I wrapped my arms around my torso, clutching at my sides. Maybe I wouldn’t fall apart. Maybe this would all work out in the end.
Something in the back of my mind was convinced this was true. And another part of me waged war with the idea.
This was the end of life as I knew it.
One Year Ago…
The biting air blowing from the vent over my head had me grabbing for my sweater and pulling my sleeves down over my palms. Forget the fact that it was a 96-degree July morning. Inside the offices of WIP Publishing, it was a freezing winter day. I ran my hand through my long black hair to get it out of my face, the static from my cashmere sweater causing individual strands to lift away in a final rebellious act. I glanced at the man next to me, the florescent light above us glinting off his shaved head. I sucked in a breath to ask him to open a window when my thoughts were interrupted.
“And this is where our assistant editors work through the manuscripts.” Darren, one of our chief acquisitions representatives, stood in the doorway of the editing room with a new employee at his side. At the sound of his voice, I glanced up from my computer screen, looking first to him. Darren’s hunter green and white polo shirt untucked from his khaki pants gave the illusion that things were a little less formal here than at your typical office job. Perhaps that was true. Even if it wasn’t, Darren had been with the company long enough that he couldn’t be bothered to care anymore. And nobody was going to try to correct his long established habits.
Shifting my gaze, I met the stare of the new guy. I offered a shy smile, which he returned with a quick eagerness. The warmth of a blush spread through my cheeks before I knew what was happening. This singular glance of his seemed to go straight through any barrier I had ever built around myself to deflect the attention of anybody who was not my husband. Typically people would smile back with the awkward we just met and I don’t know if I’m going to like you or not look on their face. But this guy seemed to have already made up his mind about me. I couldn’t escape his presence. As a last resort, I hid behind a thin curtain of my hair, but I could still feel his lingering stare. Thankfully, Darren showed no interest in sticking around, and he and my new coworker were soon on their way.
I chewed at my bottom lip long after they left, the heat from the unappreciated blush still warming my face. I looked to Taylor, the 39-year-old editing assistant to my left who had been at WIP for over a decade. His eyes scanned the manuscript displayed on his laptop with a frantic vigor, seemingly unaffected in any way by Darren’s earlier interruption. Releasing a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding back, I pushed the man with the intense eyes out of my mind and pointed my focus back toward work. Within moments I remembered the discomfort from he chill of the room, and pulled my sweater tighter around my shoulders.
“Would you mind cracking that window?”
Taylor nodded and did as I asked without otherwise acknowledging that I had spoken. We worked in silence the rest of the afternoon. By the end of my shift, I had all but forgotten about the newest addition to the company until he caught me on my way out the front doors.
“You’re Nichole, right?” the unfamiliar voice spoke in a soft tone as he emerged from a side office.
I turned in the direction from which I had heard my name while struggling with my sweater, trying to get it off without turning it completely inside out. I stopped, mid-combat, lips pursed in frustration, when I looked up to find that same hazel gaze, locking eye contact for far longer than social etiquette deemed necessary. He raised a brow with some expectation when I didn’t immediately reply.
“Yes. I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name earlier.” I cursed under my breath as the static from my sweater caused my silk blouse to stick to my skin. I needed to get a sheet of bounce after the entire wardrobe, it seemed. I was distracted, ready to go home, and paying little attention to the new guy making the attempt to get to know me. At least, I was distracted until I heard him laugh under his breath.
“Seth. Sorry if that was creepy.” His voice lifted in amusement, sounding out of place with the apology, like there was a joke I wasn’t yet in on. “Darren told me a little about you.”
He was asking about me? Or did Darren just volunteer information? Both options seemed unlikely. And how much had he learned in the span of an afternoon?
As if to answer my unspoken question, Seth continued. “When are you going to let me read your novel?”
At that, my eyes snapped back to meet his, my expression nothing short of panicked, my sweater completely forgotten, half inside out sitting on the receptionist’s desk. I had never mentioned my book to Darren. In fact, very few people in our office even knew I wrote in my spare time. I tried to read Seth’s face, attempting to gage exactly how much he had heard, while my mind raced. Who had been the leak of information? The rat. The betrayer. Seth’s countenance was a mask. If he held any revealing expression, it was that of vague smugness, clearly feeding off my anxiety.
“And who told you I’ve written a novel?” Despite my wide eyes, I tried with no small amount of desperation to keep my voice calm, even adding an air of amused disinterest for emphasis.
Seth didn’t seem to buy it. “Oh, I have my sources.” The knowing glint in his eyes played against the dim evening light, which lingered in the lobby of our office.
I could only raise a brow in response, the smile that ghosted across my lips was one of intrigue, and completely involuntary. “You only started today. What sources could you possibly have?”
His grin broadened. “People talk. Especially when they think nobody is listening,” he replied with a shrug, finally looking away. I blinked twice.
There seemed to be no point in trying to hide it. “I have. It’s still in the early stages of being edited. It needs a lot of work. But yes, I’ve written a novel.” I felt like this was a game, some form of cat and mouse between us. He was testing the waters for something.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
My brows pulled together as I thought back.
“You’re going to let me read it, right?”
I barked a laugh. “Sorry, but nobody gets to read my book. Not here. These people do that for a living. They’re not interested in what I’ve written.” I grabbed my phone from the counter and shoved it in my poor excuse for a pocket of my slacks, then pulled my hair back into a messy ponytail as Seth cocked his head to the side, obviously trying to think of a way to convince me to change my mind – to allow him to be the single exception.
Sorry, but you’re not that special, I thought, smirking.
“Have they told you that?”
I shook my head, unfazed by this approached, and fixed my stare on something out of place on the front desk, something that wasn’t him. This man was persuasive, an obvious flirt, and somehow he had a way of getting under my skin with a simple look. I could feel his gaze on me now as I centered my attention on literally anything else.
“Then you don’t actually know. And see, the advantage of it being me who reads your manuscript is that you don’t have to worry about things getting awkward if I don’t like it. You and I don’t know each other, so I won’t feel obligated to lie to you and say I think it’s good. You can count on an honest, objective opinion.”
I turned my attention to Seth with a narrowed glare. Untrusting. But he had just hit me with a counter to every excuse I had ever given my friends at work when they had requested to read my novel. If you don’t like it, it’ll make it awkward for you to talk about it with me. Or I really want honest opinions, so I think it would be better if I have someone who doesn’t know me to read it. Or you know me too well; I think you’ll see me in how I wrote the protagonist. And I think it’ll sway your opinion of the novel as a whole. None of these applied to Seth. Still, I was reluctant.
I sighed in exasperation and, with my sweater hanging from the juncture where my pocket and wrist met, began walking for the front doors. “Maybe,” I said with a smile and a glance back over my shoulder. “We’ll just have to see.”
“That’s not a no.”
With yet another blush coloring my cheeks, I pushed my way through the front doors of our small publishing house and braced myself against the suffocating weight of humidity. This man who had suddenly blown into my life consumed my mind. As per my usual habit, I chewed at my bottom lip while dwelling on the possibility of sharing my novel with someone new, and inevitably, someone I would be seeing everyday.
The drive home felt shorter than normal. It was one of those evenings where, at the end of my commute, I found myself sitting in my garage with no recollection of how I had ended up there. After sitting for several moments in the silent car, I grabbed my wallet, phone, and keys and made my way through the side door into the kitchen.
Nathan, my husband, greeted me with a warm smile followed by a quick kiss. While he continued to stir dinner with a wooden spoon in his right hand, he reached out and touched his left thumb to the center of my bottom lip.
“You’re bleeding a little.”
I prodded the spot with the tip of my tongue and shrugged. “I’m chapped. This damn heat sucks all the moisture out of my system.” The only-half-lie came out so easily I didn’t notice it. I had already forgotten the deep contemplation into which Seth had led me.
That was the nice thing about my husband – he always managed to relieve me of any pent up stress or anxiety with little more needed than a faint smile or a kiss on the cheek.
“How was work?” Nathan’s voice was light with his good mood. The subtle crow’s feet around his grey eyes became more prominent with the grin. “I hope you’re hungry. Dinner’s almost ready.”
I smiled in response and stretched to kiss his stubbled cheek while he stirred the pan on the back burner.
“Work was… interesting,” I finally responded, staring off into space and pouring myself a glass of sweet tea. “They hired a new guy at work to take Heather’s position in acquisitions. Which, you know, they could have promoted from within, but whatever.” I wasn’t referring to myself. After being with the company for five years, I had made myself comfortable in editing. I had no interest in changing departments. The only promotion I was even remotely interested in would come when my direct supervisor, Alison, either moved on to a bigger and better company, or our little publishing house grew enough that they needed two chief editors.
Nathan was watching me from his position, now propped against the sink across from the stove, dinner cooling before we plated. I shook myself back to attention and smiled through closed lips.
“I don’t know. He seems nice enough. Well versed in literature.” With one deep breath, I inhaled half my drink, and then set the glass on the black granite countertop. “Though, somehow he’s already found out that I’ve written a book. And he’s asking to read it.”
Nathan’s brows rose high with his interest. This was pretty common for us – responding without words. It’s what happened after a decade of being together.
“I have no idea who told him or what they said, but he seems to think it would be worth reading for some reason. I told him it probably wasn’t his type.” I shrugged, not waiting for my husband to offer his input, and headed down the hall to our bedroom. By the time I made it, my slacks were unbuttoned and I had removed my blouse and shoes.
Ten minutes later I was standing next to Nathan again, this time in a hoodie that had belonged to him in high school and a pair of navy satin and black lace panties that matched the bra I was still wearing. The hoodie went past the underwear, but it wasn’t in an effort to be modest or even sexy for my husband. Comfort was my only goal. I inhaled to the full capacity of my lungs and leaned against his chest, my head resting comfortable against his sternum. My eyes closed and Nathan wrapped his long arms around me.
“You should let him read it. It’ll be nice to get a new perspective, a guy’s perspective, on it.” Nathan mentioned this because he had never personally read my book. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the story. I had laid it out for him in more detail than was probably necessary. He even knew character backgrounds, some of which I hadn’t included in the actual manuscript. But Nathan wasn’t much of a reader. He found his creative outlet through music, mostly, and an occasional sketch or painting.
“Besides,” he continued, guiding us towards the plates resting next to the idea of people reading it, even people you know. Someone other than your mother.”
I shrugged, effectively ending the conversation on the subject. Nathan knew not to try to push it any further this evening.
Our night together went as they often did between the two of us. While Nathan and I ate dinner, curled up together on the couch, our two dogs stretched out at our feet, we turned on The Walking Dead. I only lacked one season before being fully caught up. This was what we did together – marathon shows on Netflix or Hulu until it was time for bed.
We had a comfortable relationship. Happy. Relaxed. Considering we had been together since just after my high school graduation, right at ten years ago, it was impressive, in most people’s opinions, that we could even still stand the sight of each other, let alone be truly content within each other’s company.
Nathan and I were rare for a couple in our late twenties. We liked to consider ourselves the exception to the rules. We never fought. Literally. Instead we discussed our disagreements like mature adults. We had never taken a “break” during our decade together. We didn’t rush getting married (though, considering the fact that we got married when I was 23-years-old and we had been engaged two years before that, many argued that we had), and we were currently in no hurry to have children. No. Nathan and I had started out young and we were still going strong, despite everyone’s initial expectations. We were the exception because while I was only eighteen, I had no doubt I would still love this man when I was eighty. We were the exception because now, ten years later, that firm belief still held true.
I was picking my way through a chef salad purchased from the café across the street and only half concentrating on a book I was reading when I heard a now familiar voice. It had been two weeks since Seth had wandered into my publishing house like a summer breeze, warming the spirit with a simple, bright-eyed grin. He was a smiling face that greeted me each morning; unlike so many others I work with who couldn’t seem to force even a nod hello until they had had a cup of coffee.
Seth seated himself across from me, eyes dancing with his good mood. I looked up, mid-bite, and raised a brow.
“Hi,” I greeted, a smile present in my voice, though I attempted to keep my satisfaction in his joining me less obvious by not actually grinning at him. “I thought you typically went out for your lunch hour.” The comment wasn’t an accusation, but floated through the air with a tone of appreciation, as if his decision to stay at work was a pleasant surprise for me. “What made you decide to join me instead?”
The man across from me smirked and tilted his head. Again, consistent with ever time we had previously interacted, his eye contact lingered and the smile that graced his lips was nothing short of inviting.
I placed my bookmark in its place and closed the cover to my novel as Seth held up a brown paper bag. He then opened it and began laying out his own meal.
“Brought my lunch today.”
My brows furrowed involuntarily. There always seemed to be so much that Seth wasn’t saying. It made me feel like I wasn’t asking the right questions. Perhaps it was his gaze that gave me that impression, but I had no doubt that, could I figure out exactly how to phrase my questions, he would provide endless conversation.
He pulled out a leftover boneless barbeque wing from a to-go Buffalo Wild Wings box and popped it in his mouth. While he chewed, and seemed to watch me meanwhile, I diverted my attention to almost anywhere else. Normally this amused him, or so he led on. But today his mind was elsewhere.
“So, are you actually married or are you…”
“I am,” I interrupted, not hesitating about my answer. Nathan and I had only been married for five years, despite getting engaged so early. But it was a reflex answer; not that lying would have done me any good. Everybody at the office knew, and many were friends with, my husband. “Why do you ask?”
Seth shook his head in response. “Just curious.” His reply came a beat too soon; his eye contact, for once, was nonexistent. “How long have you been married?”
Something in the back of my mind told me that his air of detachment was a bit too forced, and his normally light spirit was now strained, but I shook the thought away.
“Just over five years.”
Most people, upon discovering not only how long I had been married, but also that Nathan and I had been together for ten years, typically reacted the same way – girls especially. It was all congratulations and awes and wows. But Seth merely smiled, the corners of his mouth turned down. "Neat," he said, nodding and taking another large boneless wing into his mouth. The silence that stretched between us was on the verge of being awkward for the first time since I’d met him. I opened my book once more and ate while my eyes scanned the page. Three paragraphs later, after absorbing absolutely nothing of what I had just read, I closed the book again, setting it to the side with a quiet sigh.
“Would you like to have coffee with me some time?” His question caught me so off guard that it took me a moment to comprehend his words. It seemed strange timing if nothing else. I had just told him I was married and now he wanted to get coffee with me? It didn’t make sense. People didn’t hit on me.
This doesn’t mean he’s asking you on a date, Nichole, I chided myself mentally. Seth seemed friendly to nearly everybody at the publishing house. There were several of my coworkers who were talking about him in the halls or back in the corners of their offices. He was a typical social butterfly. And it seemed more likely that he would just be spreading his wings a little further.
“I mean, if we’re going to be life friends, I need to get to know you better.” His smile was back and his look intense, willing me to agree to his proposal.
“Um…” I wasn’t exactly sure how to react. I had barely spoken to him over the past two weeks, with little more interaction than being present while he was trained in certain departments, or telling him hello in the mornings and goodbye in the evenings. But I was never one to turn away from the prospect of a new friend.
I answered him after a beat, “Sure. I don’t see why not.” I didn’t comment on his label of our friendship, deciding to just go with it for now. “I have a fairly open schedule, so just let me know when you’re available.” I figured this open invitation would mean he would come knocking on my cubicle one day before lunch and say that would be the day for our coffee. We would probably hit the little shop down the road and talk about work the entire time.
Seth grinned and nodded, continuing to eat, and then pulled his own book from the bag that had contained his lunch. We didn’t talk much for the rest of the remaining hour, and as other coworkers began to trickle in the front doors and down the hallway, returning from their own lunches, we stood, discarded our plates and forks, and parted ways with nothing more than a simple “See ya later.”
It was strange for me, how easily Seth and I got along, how comfortable our friendship was after only knowing each other for two weeks. It wasn’t that we talked often – I didn’t even have his phone number – but there was something there, a companionship of sorts. And we both understood it to be nothing more than that. I hadn’t had a guy friend like this since I was in high school – someone who was just mine. Most of my current guy friends were ones I had met through Nathan, so their allegiances were with him. I was just the cool wife that let them come over and hang out on regular occasions.
For the remainder of the day, I was significantly more productive. It wasn’t until almost six that evening before I looked up from my computer screen, noticing that most of the lights were out around the office. I checked my phone and stood, closing my laptop then moved through the darkened, quiet office towards one of the side exits while sending a message to Nathan to tell him I was just now on my way home.
The dim August evening offered a humid density that weighed on my skin like a warm, wet towel. I had worn slacks instead of opting for a skirt and my shirt was three quarter length sleeved to get me through the day indoors. I pulled my hair into another ponytail as I walked to my car. I opened my driver’s side door and a loud groan of frustration rolled out of my chest when the loud honking of my car alarm broke through the otherwise silent parking lot.
“Goddamnit, George,” I cursed at the old, black Honda Civic. The button for the automatic lock was too bulky for me to want to keep on my keychain, so I tok the time to lock the doors manually. Unfortunately that meant my alarm would set itself whenever it felt the desire to do so, and as soon as I twisted the key in the lock, the blaring meep of my horn would fill the air.
Disgruntled, I pushed the right combination of buttons on the inside to silence the noise and then started the engine, praying for the air conditioner to work quickly. It was the one good thing about my car. Sure, it was old, it was pushing nearly 200,000 miles, and the windows on the driver’s side no longer worked, but the heater and air conditioner worked without fail. Five minutes into my drive and I was no longer sweating.
By the time I reached home, my husband had dinner ready for us again and we spent the evening doing our same routine. I didn’t mind the boringness of our lives. Really. We mixed it up from time to time – went out with friends, saw movies, found ways to keep our lives together interesting, but I had never been overly anxious to spend night after night going around town. I liked home. I liked being able to lounge around the house without my pants on. No expectations to be something more for someone else.
Just as I was falling asleep leaning against Nathan, both of us curled up on two cushions of our three-cushioned couch, my phone chimed from the far armrest. I growled something incoherent, the sound muffled in Nathan’s shirt.
“Go away,” I mumbled to whomever it was that had made it go off.
A couple minutes later, my phone chimed again. With intense reluctance, I stretched for the phone, knowing it would only continue to go off if I continued ignoring it. I had to rub my eyes to see the screen clearly. When they focused several seconds later, a smile pulled at my lips. I had a new Facebook notification.
Seth McGuire has sent you a friend request.
I accepted immediately.
Nathan glanced over my shoulder. “Who’s that?"
We both stood to head to our room, our dogs having already gone to their beds and hour before us.
“It’s a guy I work with. The one who wanted to read my book. He asked me if I was interested in going for coffee sometime. You don’t mind, do you?”
“Why you?” His tone was snipped, borderline insulting.
I tossed my pillow to the head of the bed after fixing the blankets, glaring in his direction with an incredulous sneer. My jaw dropped. “Excuse you, but why not me?”
Nathan frowned and shook his head. “I just mean… Why you? Why does he want to have coffee with you?” He wasn’t helping himself any.
“Again. I ask, why not me? I’m sure he’s gone to get coffee with some of the other people that I work with. Bethany. Meagan. Tammi. Allison. He made a joke the other day that we were life friends. I don’t know. It is just coffee, Nathan.” I rolled my eyes and smiled. “I’m sure you can come along if it bothers you that much.” My arms crossed over my chest as he pulled down the covers on his side of the bed.
“No. Then I’ll just be the paranoid, asshole husband.”
I was about to rebuttal when my phone chimed again, this time alerting me of a Facebook message. I ignored it for the time being.
“No you won’t. You’re my husband. I don’t mind asking him, or simply telling him that I’m bringing you along. And I think he knows that he can’t very well refuse me.”
Nathan just shrugged and headed into our bathroom while I climbed into bed, turning on LOST on Netflix on our bedroom television and picking up my phone.
Seth: I may have found you just to ask (read: harass) you about your novel. Won’t confirm or deny.
Nichole: I see. So you’re just interested in my book. And here I thought you wanted to be friends.
Seth: We are friends. Facebook said so.
I don’t have it printed out. It’s on a file on my computer.
Seth: So you’re going to email it to me then.
Nichole: It’s nearly 300 pages. I don’t think you realize what you’re asking for.
Seth: So you’re going to email it to me then.
Nichole: What’s your email?
Nichole: Okay. I’m finishing up an episode of LOST. Then I’ll send it.
Nathan had joined me in bed again, but he didn’t remark anymore about Seth or our arrangement to have coffee, either because he knew it was hopeless to argue with me once I had made my mind up to do something, or because he noticed me distracted and now had something toward which he could focus his attention. LOST was his favorite show, and it didn’t take him long to become completely absorbed within the story that he had seen countless times before.
Nichole: I don’t know how you talked me into that so fast.
Seth: LOST ended years ago. If I don’t get an email, I will cry the next time I see you. And I don’t know how to cry. So I’ll likely have to stab myself with a fork. A lot.
Two reasons. 1. Saying yes to me is really easy. I seem to have that knack. 2. You are ready to have someone read it.
Nichole: I know it ended years ago. I’m rewatching.
And I’m not sure that saying yes is easy. But saying no is difficult. And I’m terrified of having someone read it.
Seth: That actually makes more sense. The saying no part. Let’s actually be friends though. You seem like someone I want to know.
Nichole: Okay. But fair warning.
Seth: Me too.
Seth: So. I’m going to have an email, right?
Nichole: I just sent it.
Seth: And it took two weeks.
Nichole: Two weeks for what?
Seth: To get you to send me your novel.
Nichole: Yes. Well. I had to make you work for it.
Seth: What are you doing tomorrow?
Nichole: I’m taking a vacation day. So if this rain stops, possibly sitting out by the pool.
Why? What are your plans?
Seth: Work. But let’s get coffee. Or something.
Nichole: Oh. You were serious. Where?
Did I mention I can be difficult and a pain in the ass at times?
Seth: I am also troublesome.
Nichole: Before or after work?
Seth: Um. After?
Nichole: You don’t like to get up early. Huh?
Seth: Hardly. But I thought since you were off, you wouldn’t want to get up early.
Nichole: I don’t mind either way. It’ll keep me from over sleeping. But then again, I like sleeping. (Oh, and I’m god awful at making decisions.)
Seth: Okay. I’ll text you after I get off. Or Facebook you. Since that’s what’s happening.
Nichole: You’re welcome to text if you’d rather.
Seth: I mean, texting is better than Facebook.
Nichole: There are a lot of things better than Facebook.
Seth: Like what?
Nichole: You want a list?
Seth: Please do.
Seth: It’s a good list so far. But I’m not so sure.
Nichole: I enjoy writing. Clearly. Since I strung enough words together to get a novel.
Seth: I mean, I wrote a short story once.
Nichole: And you’re gonna let me read it, right?
Seth: Sure. 365tomorrows.com. Search my name. There are a few things there.
Nichole: Wow. Apparently I’m actually impossible to say no to.
Seth: Nope. But I like some of the shit I’ve written.
Nichole: I mean, I have no problem liking what I’ve written. It’s the terror that nobody else will like it that makes me reluctant to share.
Seth: Ha. Well. I doubt you’ll like anything I’ve assembled.
Nichole: I doubt your doubt.
Seth: We shall see.
By the time Seth and I had finished our conversation, Nathan was softly snoring by my side and Netflix was asking me if I was still watching. I turned off the television and bedside lamp before burying myself under the quilt my mother had made us the previous Christmas.
I smiled and set my cell phone under my pillow. It was normal for Nathan to fall asleep long before I did. There was a statistic we had read once about how it takes the average person seven minutes to fall asleep once they got in bed. That was Nathan. And it used to frustrate me, because I would be lying in bed for hours before I could ever get close to drifting off. At times it was because I was working a plot out in my mind, others it was work that kept me up. Whatever it was, my mind refused to shut down simply because I was no longer sitting up.
Within fifteen minutes of this particular night, however, I was slipping to sleep with a subtle smile on my lips, looking forward to what the next day had in store for me.