“I can grab some,” I told him. “Is there any specific type that you want?”
“Any brand, as long as it’s extra virgin olive oil,” Cayden said. I nodded and walked away. Since I was unfamiliar with the store’s layout, it took a minute to find the right aisle, but I was finally able to find the olive oil. I grabbed a bottle and walked toward the front of the store.
As I turned, I froze. Over by the milk, I saw Brad. Rather, I thought I saw Brad. His back was toward me, but I knew those arms from anywhere. He had on gym clothes and a baseball hat that covered his blonde hair. As I walked closer to him, he turned and quickly walked further away. He still had his back to me and I could not see his face.
I debated on what to do next. I could follow the mystery man deeper into the store or I could turn the opposite direction and head toward the front of the store where Cayden was waiting for the olive oil. I turned to look down at where Brad had walked, but he was gone. Feeling defeated, I walked toward the front of the store.
“Thank you,” Cayden said, grabbing the olive oil as I approached him. I tried to avoid looking at him.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “It looks like you have seen a ghost.”
I quickly pulled myself together, not wanting to reveal who I thought I’d seen.
“I’m fine,” I lied. Cayden smiled. I could tell that he believed me.
After we checked out, Cayden and I walked outside.
“I’ll meet you at my house?” he asked. I nodded. He kissed me before getting in his car.
“See you soon,” he grinned. He drove away, and I walked over to my car. I turned back to look at the store, hoping I would catch another glance of Brad, or the person I thought was Brad. I got in my car but did not turn it on. Instead, I waited, staring at the grocery store doors. I needed to confirm that it was Brad. If it was Brad, what was he doing here? Why was he grocery shopping in Miami when he lived in Tampa?
My mind began to spin with possibilities. Maybe he had broken up with Jessica and moved back to Miami. Maybe he was single now. Maybe he had realized his mistake and was trying to track me down to apologize? As much as I wanted the last possibility to be true, I knew it wasn’t. He wouldn’t have to work hard to track me down. I’d the same phone number and I hadn’t blocked him. I’d thought about it, but I wanted to keep the lines of communication open just in case.
He had many ways of contacting me – phone, email, social media. He hadn’t tried to contact me at all since we broke up. I thought he might have called last Christmas or for my birthday, but my phone had stayed silent. Every holiday that passed was a reminder that Brad had moved on and I’d not.
I waited for five more minutes, but the mystery man did not come out of the store. I thought about going back in, but I stopped myself. Cayden was probably already back at his house, waiting for me. He thought I left right after him. Finally, I turned on my car and left. Even if it was Brad, I didn’t have time. I’d someone else waiting for me.
“Call Mandy,” I instructed my car’s sync system. In a few seconds, Mandy’s voice came over my car’s speakers.
“Hey, girl,” she said. “Are you at Cayden’s?”
“On my way,” I said. “We went grocery shopping before.”
“Aww, that is so cute. You two are already doing real couple things together.”
“Yeah,” I said, “but, listen. I’m not calling for that. I’m calling because I think I saw Brad at the grocery store.”
“No,” she said. “You did not!”
“I think I did,” I said, turning on Cayden’s street. “I’m 99.9% sure that it was him. I didn’t see him from the front, but it looked just like him. I didn’t have time to investigate any further, but I think he is back in town.”
“I think that you think you saw him,” she said. “He is in Tampa, remember? He’s with Jessica and they have their own life there. He’s not here anymore, Tiffany.”
She was a bit tough with her words, but she had to be. I’d been pining over Brad for a year and she had heard it all. She hated him for what he did to me. I didn’t blame her.
“Listen,” she said. “Cayden is a great guy. He has a great job, he treats you very well, and he’s hot. You cannot screw this up, Tiffany. You need to let Brad go. You needed to let him go a long time ago, but now you really need to let him go.”
She was right. Still holding on to Brad could ruin my relationship with Cayden. I felt stupid for not being able to let go of the past, especially when Brad had been such an awful fiancé. He had cheated on me, for crying out loud.
“Thanks, Mandy,” I said. “You’re right. I need to focus on Cayden.”
“Anytime,” she said, as she hung up the phone.
I turned into Cayden’s complex, but still felt conflicted. I knew what I’d to do, I knew why I’d to do it, but I still could not let Brad go. I walked up to Cayden’s door, noticing the Christmas lights in the trees around his neighborhood. Everyone was in the Christmas spirit, except for me. Cayden opened the door, a glass of wine already in his hand for me.
“Did you get lost?” he asked. I walked in, taking the glass from his hand. I shook my head.
“No,” I said. “I’d to stop for gas. I’m sorry.”
“No worries,” he said, as we walked inside. He already had all the groceries unloaded and had started to boil the water. I sat down on a barstool and chugged my wine. As I put the empty glass down, Cayden looked at me with a shocked look on his face.
“Are you okay?” he asked. He was genuinely concerned. I faked a smile.
“Of course,” I said. “It was just a long day. I barely slept last night. I was psyching myself out about the meeting this morning.”
He nodded understandingly.
“I get it,” he said. “You do have a lot going on this week. But, it’s all exciting stuff, right? You feel good about this, right?”
“I do,” I said. I really was excited about my new job and leading the empowerment group, but I still couldn’t shake the thoughts of Brad. He was going to ruin this excitement in my life, whether he knew it or not.
I walked into work feeling utterly confused. Last night was supposed to have been a fun night. It was supposed to be filled with good food, great company, and even better sex. It was not. I didn’t understand what went wrong so quickly. Tiffany was fine at work yesterday and even in a good mood at the grocery store, until she left to get the olive oil. Everything changed as soon as she came back. She was distant, but insistent that nothing was wrong.
I made a fantastic dinner. I even surprised myself with how good the recipe turned out. Tiffany barely ate it. She had a few bites and pushed the rest around on her plate as if she were a picky toddler. She didn’t touch the tiramisu, either. After our meal, she said she was tired and left. I understood that she had a long day and was going through a big change at work, but I felt like it was something more than that. I could not figure out what it was, though.
As I walked into my office, I peered into her new office. Her office was dark. She wasn’t there yet. I would have to find her later that day. I needed to talk to her. It was driving me crazy that something was wrong, and I didn’t know what. I kept thinking about what had happened. Did I say something wrong? I didn’t think so, but who knew?
Unfortunately, I got wrapped up in morning meetings and couldn’t stop by her office until near lunchtime. She wasn’t there, probably out to lunch with Nikki. I headed to the breakroom to grab my lunch when I knocked into her. We were the only two in the room.
“Hey,” I said. “How is your day going?”
“Fine,” she replied, not looking me in the eye. “Busy, but fine. You?” Her words were short. Something was still bothering her.
“Same,” I said. “I’ve been in a lot of meetings. Listen, I wanted to talk to you about last night.”
She still would not look at me.
“Did I do something wrong?” I asked. She shook her head.