Note: Another long installment, chock full of conversation — lengthy, but a quick read. (Please don’t let the length deter you!) …And as always, thanks for reading!
fiction friday 10.
[But first: Blue 1 | Blue 2 | Blue 3 | Blue 4 | Blue 5 | Blue 6 | Blue 7 | Blue 8 | Blue 9]
Continued from part 9…
Kate grabbed the pillow beside her and clutched it to her chest. She could still see her new dress hanging on her closet door despite the near-darkness. She smiled and took a deep breath. And she took another deep breath… because the pillow she hugged smelled just like Des. And that scent that had always warmed her inside. It still gave her the warmth but now also the heat, the passion, the trembling. She needed another deep breath of him.
How did this happen? I think I love that this happened… God, I want it to happen again…
Her flustering thoughts were interrupted when her phone buzzed on the table near her head. She knew exactly who it was, and the moment she confirmed, she was flustered all over again.
[des] are you asleep?
[katie] no… I’m typing to you…
[des] cute… were you asleep?
[katie] not yet…
No more typing.
“Hey killer. You sure I didn’t wake you up? You sound sleepy.” Has she always sounded so sweet, so adorable when she’s sleepy? All those calls from the road when I woke her… how could I not notice?
“Good. I would have called earlier but I had to take care of some stuff.” Yeah. Had to dump Nat. Immediately. And she tried to blame Katie. God, I am so glad that’s over. “And I had to eat pizza with Tom.”
“You had to do that?” She laughed at him. “How’s Tom?”
“Same as always.” Tom… who after about thirty seconds with me, knew something was going on. With Katie. And I was trying to tell him, but I hardly had to say anything. He figured it out and interrupted with, ‘you ripped each other’s clothes off and had wild crazy hot sex??’ as is typical of Tom’s blunt humor. “But Mish was acting very strangely. Any idea why?”
“I might have an idea…” He knows why. He knows I told her everything. Not like I had a choice. I was blushing and completely flustered. She figured it out easily. “She must have had a really good time eating lunch and shopping with me.” Lies.
“Right. Lunch… shopping.” She is adorable. “What did you buy me?”
“I bought a dress.” She glanced toward her closet again. “Which suppose is for you… kind of.”
“It’s for me? Do you think it’ll fit…?”
I love when he laughs. “It’s for the awards. You were serious about that, right?”
“Of course I was serious. Is there anything I need to know about this dress? Are you going to totally upstage me?”
“Maybe. But that’s all you get. You’re going to have to wait.”
“We need to talk…”
“We are talking.”
“I know, Katie.”
“I’m not sure I want to do this over the phone.”
“You’re right. Should I come over? I should come over…” Yes, that’s what I should do.
“It’s kind of late… I’m already in bed.” I want him to come over. Right now. And rip my clothes off. Oh God.
“I don’t think that’s a problem…” He had a smile she could feel. “I know it’s late. Tomorrow?”
“I can’t. I have to go to Boston for work. There’s a whole boat tour and everything. I guess the client thinks it’ll help their ad campaign to… spoil us…”
“Your job is awesome,” he laughed softly.
She laughed, too. “So is yours, rock star.”
He shook his head when she called him that. “When will you be back?” He didn’t want her to go. He knew he had no right even thinking that for all the leaving town he did for his music.
“Thursday I have that horribly early performance… then I have a TV thing… I’m not sure when I’ll be done…”
“I take it back,” Kate said. “I hate your job now.” She let out a tiny laugh.
He laughed, too. “Kind of hate yours right now, too.”
“We’ll figure it out as soon as I get back.”
“Hey… Katie… are you okay? You’re not wasting time thinking about him are you?”
“You can say his name, Des. And no, I’m not thinking about Michael at all.” Jesus, how can I when you and I… oh.
“Good.” He paused for a moment. “Are you sure I can’t come over now?”
“Des… if I didn’t have that damn trip tomorrow, I think you’d already be here.” She knew he smiled. “I want to ask you something…”
“Did you tell anyone? Did you tell Tom?”
“Tell Tom what?” God, I love teasing her.
“You know exactly what. You love to tease me, don’t you?”
“Yes. And yes.”
“Tom knows. Mish also knows. So… I guess that works out nicely…” She made him laugh again.
“It definitely explains Mish’s strange behavior tonight.”
“She is not good at hiding her emotions.” They slipped into a moment of peaceful silence… until Kate yawned. And Des heard her.
“I need to let you go to sleep, don’t I?” he asked.
“Yeah, I guess I should sleep.” She inhaled his scent from her pillow again. “These are my favorite, you know.”
“Phone calls… at night… when we’re too tired to think too much.”
“Yeah, I kind of love them, too.” Des smiled. Pieces of his relationship with Katie – things he had always taken for granted – felt suddenly beautiful to him. “Go to sleep, Katie,” he said softly.
“Thanks for calling,” she mumbled sleepily.
“Oh, I called you for totally selfish reasons. I always do,” he admitted.
“You are not selfish,” she smiled. “Night, kid.”
Kate rested her bag by the door and paced back to the kitchen to finish her coffee. She dreaded her terribly timed trip. With a sigh, she took her last sip and reached for the faucet to clean her mug. But before she turned on the water, she heard a knock at her door. She peeked through and was a bit stunned by her visitor. She slowly opened the door.
“Nat. Hi.” Kate let her in. “I’m on my way out in a few…” she began. But Nat cut her off.
“This won’t take long,” Nat snapped. “What the hell did you do?”
“What?” Kate always knew Nat had a problem with her, but this was rude. And a little frightening.
“You’ve ruined everything between Des and me. Why couldn’t you just leave him alone?”
“He is my best friend. You’ve always known that.”
“Uh huh. Sure. So as soon as you got dumped, you figured you could just take him?”
Kate was horrified. And she realized she didn’t have to deal with this. She didn’t owe Nat any explanations or anything else. She walked to her door and pulled it open. “Get out.” Kate was firm and angry, but inside, she was about to burst into tears. She was determined to hold that in until Nat was gone.
Nat glared at Kate and then looked away in disgust. She walked out and Kate slammed the door behind her.
Kate took a deep breath and let herself cry. Wiping her tears away, she tried to calm herself down. She had no idea what just happened. Nat couldn’t possibly know what really happened between Des and me, could she? Des would never tell her. No one would tell her. Maybe Nat just can’t deal with Des and me being friends at all – she never really could. But this… what was the point? Did she think she could save her relationship with Des? That’s not possible. Right? That’s already over. Right?
Again, Kate had to wipe her tears. She knew nothing could ruin her friendship with Des, but she wanted more and she thought he did, too. But if Nat was still in the picture, what did that mean? Kate began to worry that she had been crazy and delusional to think she and Des could be together. But she didn’t have time to figure it out. She had to catch her train.
Sitting beside the window with her team not far from her, Kate pulled out her phone and stared at it. Too anxious to call Des. She called Mish but when she heard a voice answer, it wasn’t her.
“Hey Kate. Mish is in the shower.”
“Hi Tom. I can call her later,” Kate mumbled, still upset about Nat’s visit.
“You okay, Kate?”
That was all it took. Tom asking her if she was all right brought her tears back. “Not really,” she admitted.
“I had an unexpected visitor this morning…” She wiped her eyes. “It was Nat.”
“Oh God.” Tom knew it couldn’t be good. Because he knew Nat. “Kate…”
“She just started yelling at me.”
“For what?” Tom knew Des already ended it with Nat. But he didn’t know if he should be the one to tell Kate.
“For ruining things between her and Des. That’s what she said.”
“She’s insane. You know they’ve been nothing for weeks.”
“I know. But…”
“But nothing. Everyone knows about you and Des.” Tom immediately realized that comment needed clarification. “You’ve been best friends forever.”
“Apparently, Nat has never been able to live with that,” Kate said.
“I guess she’s got a problem, then.” Tom said. “But it’s her problem. Not yours… or Des’.” Tom reached for his own phone while talking to Kate on Mish’s.
[tom] Hey. Kate just called Mish because Nat showed up at her place this morning
[tom]I knew you’d want to know
[des] Thanks… later, ok?
“Tom… thanks,” Kate said.
“Oh honey, it’s nothing. Believe me. Nat is crazy. Don’t let her get to you.”
“I won’t. The whole thing was just… unexpected. And mean.”
“I know. But everything’s fine… it’s all good.”
Kate didn’t have a chance to figure out what Tom meant by that. “Tom… Des is calling me.”
Tom knew he was busted for texting Des. “Talk to you later, Kate. I’ll tell Mish to call, too.”
“Hey, killer. You on the train?”
His voice made her smile. “Yeah, I am. What are you doing?”
“Making more coffee.”
“Trouble staying awake?” she teased.
“Well, maybe if you hadn’t kept me up so late last night…” He teased right back.
“Me?!” She laughed a little. “You’re the one who called so late… remember?”
Des laughed, too. “I know,” he said. “It’s all my fault.”
“I totally blame you.” She adored the way he could always make her happy.
“You sound good, Katie.”
“I am good.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Tom texted me…” Des confessed.
“Don’t be mad at him…”
“I’m not. I would have told you anyway,” Kate admitted.
“Tom only said she showed up at your place… then I called you. I was worried about you.”
“I’m okay. But wow, she really does not like me.”
“Oh God. What happened?”
“She said I ruined everything between you two. She asked why I couldn’t just leave you alone. You know, stuff like that.”
“Katie, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault, kid.”
“It kind of is. I never loved her.”
“That’s not your fault either. We feel what we feel… you can’t make yourself love someone.” Kate knew that first-hand.
“I guess she never accepted us… you and me,” Des said.
“She really upset me. I… um…” she paused for a moment, “I threw her out.”
Des let out a little chuckle. “Good!” He sighed. “She never should have been there. I’m so sorry you had to deal with her. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m sure. I talked to Tom. I’m glad he answered Mish’s phone. He’s the best.”
“The best, huh?” Des laughed softly. “I’m glad he helped.”
“I feel bad for her,” Kate said.
“Yeah. I mean, she’s losing you. I’d be a mess if I was losing you.”
“She lost me a long time ago. Hell, I’m not even sure she ever had me. And I should have told her that. But, Katie, you would never treat anyone like that. And, my God, how do you do it?”
“She was horrible to you and you’re… sympathetic. Didn’t you want to punch her?”
Kate laughed softly. “Yes… of course I did! But she was a little scary. She might have hit back.”
He laughed, too. “I guess you might as well know that if I ever run into Michael, I probably will punch him.”
“Please make sure I’m there to watch.”
Des laughed again, but in a moment, he turned serious. “Katie?”
“You know you never have to worry about losing me, right? You should know that. It’ll never happen.”
I know all of this but, God, the way he talks to me… he is so sweet. I want to kiss him. I want to be in his arms. Oh God. I’m making myself crazy. But I can’t stop thinking about touching him.
“Hey killer? What’s going on in your head right now?”
“Uh…” Shall I blurt out what I was really thinking? The kissing and the touching? “Just thinking about you,” she finally admitted.
“Me,” he repeated. “What about me?”
“You’ve been so good to me since this whole Michael thing.”
“No, Katie, I’m just…” A selfish man who couldn’t keep his hands off you.
“Des,” she wouldn’t let him disagree. “God, have you always been this sweet?”
“Probably not,” he laughed.
She, too, laughed, but had to disagree. “I think maybe you have…”
“Have you always been this adorable?”
“Yes, of course I have.” She smiled at her own words. Des laughed again, too, mostly because he knew it was true.
“You know, I really am curious about that dress.”
“I know. That’s why I won’t tell you anything. You are so much fun to tease.”
“Wow,” he spoke with a bit of sarcastic tone, but also with a touch of laughter. “Thanks…”
“Hey, it’s your own fault. You’ve teased me my whole life. I’ve picked up a few things…” They both laughed again. “I guess I should go.”
“Call me tonight? If you can…”
“I will. Bye, Des.”
“Talk to you soon, Katie.”
Des grabbed the bag holding the last traces of his non-relationship with Nat and headed to the coffee shop. He didn’t want to see her. He wanted to see Katie. He wanted to call her and find out if she was home yet. After the longest two days of his life, it was Thursday. Finally. But before he could see Katie, he had to get every last bit of Nat out of his home and his life.
Still angry about Nat’s obnoxious visit to Katie, Des had to take a deep breath before he went inside the coffee shop. He was genuinely concerned he might lose it as soon as he saw her. But when he reached her, he found it difficult to speak to her at all. He handed her the bag without a word and wanted to leave.
“Des, will you sit down for a minute?” she pleaded.
He hesitated but finally sat with her, still not saying anything.
“I wanted to apologize,” she said. “I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I’m sorry anyway.”
Again, Des took a deep breath so he could speak calmly. “You were…” She was a bitch. But he had to take a minute. He didn’t want to be as cruel as she was, even if she deserved it. “You were malicious.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not me that I’m concerned about. I’m much angrier at what you did to Katie. She didn’t deserve that unjustified vindictive little visit of yours.”
“I am really sorry about that, too. But I don’t think I can apologize to her.”
“No. You can’t. Please leave her alone. If you have a problem, it’s with me. Katie never did anything.”
Nat didn’t say anything for a moment. She stared at her coffee cup for a moment before lifting a hand to wipe a few tears from her face. “I should have seen this a long time ago. You and Katie.”
“She’s my best friend,” Des said, feeling that and so much more in his heart.
Nat reached across the table and covered his hand with hers. “She’s more than that, isn’t she?”
Des didn’t know what to say. Yes. Katie was more than his best friend. She was everything to him and thinking about her made his heart pound. But he was not going to talk to Nat about his relationship with Katie. He didn’t speak. He didn’t have to.
“You should be with her,” she said. “You belong with her.”
Des finally cracked a touch of a smile. He couldn’t help it. It wasn’t for Nat. It was for Katie. He knew he belonged with her. And it made him happy. He stood with Nat and gave her an insincere half-hug. And he walked away.
Feeling a bit more at peace, Des headed home. Katie could be back.
Kate hurried to her apartment and dumped her things by the bed. She couldn’t be bothered unpacking or sifting through her mail. She left it all behind and headed down the stairs and back out the door. She couldn’t be sure Des would be home, but she didn’t care. She wanted the next words they shared to be face-to-face.
As her cab driver approached her favorite coffee spot, she asked him to stop. She needed coffee and Des always needed it. She already knew he would be happy to see her, but she knew showing up with coffee in hand would be even better.
Kate smiled in anticipation of finally seeing him. She sighed happily and reached for the coffee shop’s door. But she didn’t open it. She couldn’t.
She froze. She couldn’t breathe.
She saw Des inside… with Nat. They sat together in the midst of what appeared to be an intense conversation. Their hands were on the table. Touching. Kate turned around with a gasp and leaned against the wall by the shop windows. Her hand covered her heart but she couldn’t stop the pounding in her chest.
Oh God. Am I seeing things? I must be. She needed another look. But when she peered back in through the window, she found them again – Des and Nat – together. She watched them stand and reach for each other. This time, when Kate backed away from the window, she kept going.