Chapter 6: Pete
Was she serious? After everything we had been through, after what had happened just now, she was ready to pretend like it was nothing?
She began to pick up her clothes around her office and I watched as she moved with grace. She didn’t lose her balance when she had to slide her thong up her long legs. She made it look easy. And it was the easy part that was twisting my guts. I wasn’t going to make it easy for her. Not again.
“No,” I said.
She shot me a look as she started buttoning her shirt.
“No?” she asked.
“No,” I said with certainty. “I’m not going to let you do this again.”
“Excuse me?” she asked in her typical Kate way.
“I know you said that you didn’t want anything serious before,” I said, “but I can’t accept that from you. We laid in bed together and shared things, lots of intimate things. And one of them was that you longed for a partner to share your life with.” It was like a dam I had been keeping at bay finally burst and the words kept rushing out and I couldn’t stop them. Which was fine with me. I didn’t want to stop them.
She scoffed, tugging her shirt over her head. “Don’t fool yourself, Pete. You can’t do serious, Pete,” she said. “You proved that six months ago.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “You were the one who made it very clear you didn’t want to be in a serious relationship. You were the one who told me to leave when things got too serious between us.”
A wry smile touched her face. She ran her fingers through her straight blonde hair, trying to make it look perfect, like I hadn’t just fucked her on her desk. I was almost pissed that she wanted to erase that. I wanted her to keep her sex hair so people would know she was with someone, not just someone, but me.
“That is so typical of you to forget, Pete.” She rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. “When I got the call that Blake died, you left and basically avoided me. Do you know how much that hurt? Do you know how much I–” Her voice broke so she shut herself down, turning herself off to further discussion with a shake of her head.
I opened my mouth to respond, probably to deny it. But quickly shut it when my brain processed what she’d just said. She thought I’d left her…alone… She couldn’t possibly have that terrible of a memory. I took two strides to her before placing my hand gently on her shoulders. I turned her around and looked her deep in her eyes. I needed her to know what really happened.
“That’s not what happened,” I told her slowly. “Once you got off the phone, you were quiet for a few minutes and told me to leave. You said you would call me. And that was it. You never called.”
She furrowed her brow but she kept her mouth quiet as she stared back up into my eyes. I wanted to kiss her, again. I wanted to take away the pain she must have felt since the shock of losing her brother.
“Remember?” I pushed on, my voice tentative. I didn’t want to start a fight, but I also needed her to know this. “You told me to go and you locked yourself in the bathroom. I didn’t leave, though. I stayed because I couldn’t believe you would just dismiss me like that and I knew something was wrong. And hours later, you came out and you looked at me and you said -“
“You’re still here,” she mumbled, her voice barely as whisper, her big green eyes pooling with unshed tears.
She ran her fingers through her hair as she processed what I’d just relayed to her. I could tell she was genuinely trying to remember that evening. I remembered it like it was yesterday. I couldn’t stop remembering it, going through each moment and trying to figure out what I could have done to prevent her from shutting down, from insisting that I leave.
“I just remember getting the phone call,” she told me. She sidestepped my embrace as she slid on her skirt, tugging her hair down so her hair masked her face. I knew she did this so she could hide her face. Her eyes were still filling up with tears. I wanted to reach for her but I didn’t want her to get defensive. “Blake died because of a drunk driver. A drunk driver. I still can’t wrap my head around it. These things happen to other people, not to me. Definitely not to Blake. He was good and wonderful and yes, maybe he pissed me off about a great number of things. Like politics and his choice of a degree. He majored in liberal arts which was probably not going to make him any money. But he was my best friend. And now he’s gone. Just like that. I don’t even remember our last conversation together. Did you know that? How do I not even remember that? And every time I think I’m going to forget the sound of his voice, I call his cell just to hear it one more time.”
I sucked in a deep breath, her admission punching me in the gut. I could feel my heart break at hearing the pain so clear in Kate’s voice. The thing about Kate was, she never let herself be vulnerable. And now I could clearly see she was shattering right in front of me.
“I’m so sorry, Kate,” I told her, hoping she could hear the sincerity in my voice. “I should have asked you about it and I didn’t. I’m sorry. I’m sorry it took me this long to talk to you about it at all. I won’t let you down again. I promise.”
And I meant it.