My phone dinged with a text message and I made the mistake of glancing at it.
Damn my eyes. Just lost any semblance of plausible deniability.
I waited, expecting her to launch into some tirade or another, but she said nothing.
“Three exclamation marks, mom. Is there something going on?”
A beat. “You tell me, Alexis. IS there something going on?”
Jesus. I was in the middle of getting ready to leave the house and I knew better than to let her bait me. But she was my mom, after all. She is a next-level pro at this and I didn’t stand a chance.
“What are you talking about, mom?”
There was an exasperated sigh on the other end, and I almost heard her rolling her eyes at me.
“Patty called me today.”
While this wasn’t shocking news, it wasn’t what I was expecting. Chris’s mom and my mom had become fast friends when we were dating. They lived in the same town and ran into each other periodically, so it only stood to reason that they’d stay on friendly terms.
What did surprise me was that Chris had apparently told his mom he was meeting me for dinner.
“She did, huh?”
“Don’t play dumb, young lady.” She was silent for a moment. When she spoke again, her voice was low and quiet. “What are you doing, Alexis?”
Well, wasn’t that just the question of the day? I didn’t have the first clue how to explain it to my mom when I didn’t quite know, myself.
“Have you talked to Jamie recently?”
This question that seemingly came out of nowhere, was just a set up for what would morph into a long and entertaining guilt trip.
“I talked to him last week, mom. He’s fine. He and I are fine. I still love him, we’re still getting married. Just not quite…yet.”
“But why are you going out to dinner with other men if you’re still marrying Jamie? How could you do that to him?”
I held the phone away from me for a moment, pressed against my chest, so I didn’t scream in her ear. Deep breaths, Lex. Think calming thoughts…
“Mom. I’m not going out with ‘other men’. I’m having dinner with an old friend.”
She scoffed. “You and Chris have never been just friends.”
She wasn’t wrong.
After nine months of dating, we called it quits. It wasn’t ugly, it wasn’t messy, it just…ended. We didn’t see each other at all over the summer, but once school started, we kind of gravitated together. He took someone else to Homecoming, but by Halloween we were thick as thieves again, like no time had passed.
When we broke up the next time, it was harder.
“Lexi. This isn’t working.”
“We’re trying to get back to what we used to be, but it can’t be like that again. We’re not the same people.”
I had wiped the tears off my cheeks, nodding.
“God, I wish we were. I still care about you – I’ll always care about you – but…”
My mom’s voice was droning in my ear. I wiped the tears off my cheeks, nodding.
“I know, mom. I know this seems like a bad idea. But Jamie and I are fine. Chris and I are…just friends.”
She stopped talking. So did I.
“I have to go, mom. If I don’t leave now, I’ll be late.”
“Alexis.” She took a deep breath. “Be careful.”