“Whose side are you on, anyway? You’re a shitty therapist.”
“I said I was psychic, not a licensed shrink. And you know I’m on your side. I get it, but things are different now. All I’m saying is that obviously you two really cared about each other. Maybe enough time has gone by that you could reconnect and at least be friends.” He reached over and patted my leg over the blanket. “Everyone can use closure, trust me. Emotions were running high, but he’s had time to calm down. You both have.”
I shook my head. I went back to that day. I’d been so overwhelmed by seeing him again, only to have his love ripped from me. I’d never forget it. I cried myself to sleep for weeks thinking about it, filled with regret but knowing I’d had no other choice. I’d beaten myself up for months, years, that I couldn’t hand over my heart and run away from my life, as much as I may have wanted to.
Marry me. Those two little words had ruined everything. No proposal ever wanted to go the way ours had gone.
After he’d left so suddenly, I’d called Olivia in a panic. She’d gone back home for break, so I assumed that’s where he’d go next. No. He flew back to base, voluntarily skipping the rest of the leave that he’d been granted. He’d relinquished the time we would have spent getting used to calling each other husband and wife to be farther away from me.
Weeks went by with no word. He’d never given me the address to his new base and Olivia claimed not to have it, telling me that he’d deployed as soon as he got out of tech school. We didn’t speak much after that. She could barely look at me.
“You loved him once, Maya.” Eli’s soft words broke through my thoughts. “I know you still care about him. You could keep carrying the weight of that day with you, or you could try to create a new memory.”
I swallowed over the burning sensation in my throat. I’d cried too many tears over him already. What we shared then had been more than a fleeting infatuation. Cameron had been everything to me, and I’d believed it was the same for him. He was my escape, every hope and dream wrapped up into one beautiful package. True enough, he’d been my crutch when I’d desperately needed one.
I cringed at the word and how he’d wielded it against me in the heat of the moment. In the end, that’s what he thought he was to me, an emotional crutch, because I couldn’t commit to more. Maybe that had been true and he was better off without me.
“Can we drop it?” I downed a big gulp of wine, convinced that everything would make more sense once I hit the bottom of this glass, possibly the bottle. I could forget Cameron, my soul-crushing job, my f****d up family, and boil everything down to the blissful numbness that crept over me.
Eli sighed, seeming to relent. He grabbed the remote from the table and turned on the news. An international story started to put things into perspective, but my mind kept returning to Cameron. The way he’d looked at me that day was burned into my mind, so in love and then so defeated, as hurt as I’d ever seen him.
I hadn’t forgotten any of it. I was afraid if I ever saw him again, I never would.
* * *
Alex interrupted my laser focus on the spreadsheet I was working on. I looked up at him for a second. He was holding what was likely his third cup of coffee and smiling at me with bulgy eyes, like he had something juicy to share.
“What do you want?” I trained my eyes back on the screen. I was in my mode.
“Nice to see you too.”
I sighed and waited for him to start. Considering Alex was male, straight, and engaged, he was a terrible gossip at work. I suspected it was a result of absolute boredom, which I couldn’t exactly blame him for. Our office sorely lacked culture and energy. When I wasn’t working, I usually welcomed the distraction—and the information—since I wasn’t in the habit of making friends at work for intel.
He leaned into the side of the cubicle, bringing his head lower to mine. “Have you met the new assistant VP?”
I’d seen her walking between her office and the senior VP offices. She was olive-skinned, gorgeous, and had a throaty laugh that made me wonder how many guys had propositioned her since she’d started last week.
“Her name is Jia. She’s our age. I’d like to know how she landed that gig. They didn’t even pretend to hire internally for the position.”
“Is she nice?” I asked, assuming she wasn’t. No one climbed the ladder that fast being nice. Not that I would necessarily know. More women worked in the field now than a decade ago for sure, but our small contingent didn’t exactly share a strong female camaraderie. Every woman for herself, and you never really knew who would sell you down the river if given the chance. I’d seen it happen a few times and accepted this as yet another facet of office politics that I’d never fully buy into as long as I was here.