I watched Chris leave, thinking about what he’d said. He really wasn’t pushing me. So why did I feel like I was under pressure?
That was all on me. It was classic Alexis; the weight of the world balanced precariously on every decision I made. Logically, I knew that very little hinged on what job I took, where I went on vacation, what I had for dinner. But somehow my anxiety had convinced me that if I chose poorly the repercussions could be catastrophic.
Being around Chris felt good. He was kind and considerate and probably the sweetest man on the planet. Could I see myself with him? Easily. We would wake up and make breakfast, then spend the time before we had to work drinking coffee and discussing the latest news. On the weekends we could stay in bed and binge tv or get up to wander around the Farmers’ Market, holding hands and meeting up with friends for brunch. Our life together stretched out in front of me, calm, peaceful, and full of love. We could get married and buy a house, get a dog and have a baby. He’d be the best dad.
With a shock, I realized I had forgotten a very important piece of information regarding Chris: He was already a dad!
I frowned. That tidbit brought with it an entire host of things I hadn’t taken into consideration. His ex-wife would always be a part of his life. It’s not that I didn’t like Angie or that I thought she’d try to come between us, but that reminder that he’d loved someone else would always be present. I liked kids. At least, I was sure I would, if I spent any time around them. Chewing my lip, it dawned on me that life with Chris might cause as much anxiety as it quelled.
When I walked into my apartment, Jamie was standing at the window, hands in his pockets and his shoulders down. He didn’t turn when I came in. He didn’t say anything, either.
“Hey,” I said. “It’s time we had a talk.”
He cleared his throat. “I’ve already lost you, haven’t I?”
I froze, guilt settling like a weight in my stomach. “What do you mean? Of course not. But I think we both have questions that deserve answers.”
Jamie nodded, shuffled his foot on the carpet, then crossed the room and sat in the chair he’d been in earlier.
He didn’t look up at me once.
As soon as I was settled across from him, hands clenched in my lap, I tried to order my thoughts. I had no idea what to start with. Should I tell him things I think he wants to know? Ask him my questions? Keep my mouth shut and wait for him to start?
I watched him and it became obvious he wasn’t about to take the initiative. He was slouched forward in the chair, elbows resting on his thighs. Staring at the floor, his hands hung limp between his knees. Everything about him felt dejected and heartbroken. And, once again, it was because of me.
“Are you in love with him, Lex?” he asked the floor.
Was I? That was the million-dollar question. How did I feel about Chris? There was a part of me that wanted to spend all my time with him, to kiss him again, to just lie in his arms. But the rational part of me was able to look at the situation and see it the way he had described our kiss: ‘It was two people with a shared past needing to feel something good, if only for a little while.’
Looking at Jamie in my living room and seeing what my behavior was doing to him broke my heart. I wanted to gather him to me and kiss him, soothe him, and take away all the hurt.
“I—I don’t know,” I stammered. “I’m so confused. I don’t know if these are real feelings or something left over from high school or just a reaction to the way he thinks he feels about me.”
Jamie sat up and finally met my gaze. His lips curved into the ghost of a smile, but his eyes were still filled with pain. “That’s better news than I was expecting,” he said. “Watching how comfortable you two are with each other, I was sure this was the end for me.” His face darkened and he turned away. “But the fact that you kissed him is going to hang over us for a long time.”
“I know.” I stared at my hands as I picked at my nails. Oh, I was aware that I had hurt him in a moment of stupidity and the guilt weighed heavily on me. “It sounds like a broken record, but I never meant for that to happen. It was nothing but a moment of weakness.”
I was going to say more, try to apologize again, to get him to understand what I had been feeling in that moment with Chris. But as I looked at Jamie’s sad, distraught face, something occurred to me.
“Wait a minute. I’ve already explained this, I’ve already apologized. It’s your turn to start talking.”
His brow furrowed, he cocked his head and asked, “What do you mean? About what?”
I crossed my arms and narrowed my eyes, giving him the best glare I could muster as I uttered one word.