“Mandy!” I exclaimed. Out of the two of us, she was the more outspoken one. I may have thought about sharing Cayden’s cock size with the girls, but I never would have admitted to it so freely. Some things needed to be kept a secret.
We all laughed as we talked about the men in our lives. Mandy was planning her wedding to Tinder Guy, while Nikki was contemplating her next move with Maurice.
“He’s a great guy,” she admitted. “But he still lives with his mom, and he is such a mama’s boy. I really like him, but I feel like I need a guy who is more mature.”
Mandy and I nodded. While Cayden was mature, I knew exactly the type of guy she was talking about. No woman over twenty-five wanted a man who still lived with his mama, no matter how attractive he was.
“What about Cayden?” Nikki asked. “How are things going between you two?”
I shrugged but couldn’t hide the smile on my face. I wanted to keep things secret, but it was hard to hide my feelings for him.
“They’re going well,” I said. “We’re trying to take it slow. Plus, we have to hide it in the office. If anyone finds out we are still dating, we’ll be in major trouble.”
“I hate to break this to you, but you two are so obvious,” she said. “He came to your meeting yesterday morning and basically was just staring at you. He is in love, and the whole office knows it.”
I swatted at her playfully.
“He is not in love,” I said. “We are just taking it slow and having fun.”
I was telling her the truth, especially now that I knew about Cayden’s past. He had a shattered past and so did I. While we both liked each other, there were a lot of hurdles to overcome and a lot of hurt to heal.
We spent the lunch talking about men, work, and the holidays. Both of them didn’t like me staying alone on Christmas, but I was firm in my decision. I didn’t want to do the holidays with my family and I didn’t want to go anywhere to anyone else’s family gathering, either. Christmas would be like any other day. I was good with it.
“What about Cayden?” Nikki asked. “Don’t you want to do something with him?”
I shook my head. I’d thought about it, but it also made me nervous. I certainly didn’t want to bring him to my family’s gathering and I wasn’t sure about going to his, either. I knew he wasn’t ready to introduce me to Austin. I didn’t blame him; I actually respected him for caring so much about Austin.
“I think it’s too soon,” I told her. She nodded.
“Christmas is a big deal,” Mandy said. “It would probably be really nerve-wracking meeting someone’s family on Christmas Day.”
“Exactly,” I said. I was glad that she understood where I was coming from.
“It’s really fine,” I said. “I’ll be happy on the couch watching movies.”
“If you say so,” Nikki said. I wanted to drop the subject. It was hard explaining my stance to people who had normal families to celebrate with.
“We better get back to work,” I said, looking at my watch. Although we were having a great time, Nikki and I’d a lot of work back at the office. Mandy frowned, but thanked us for joining her for lunch.
“We’ll have to do this more often,” Nikki suggested. Mandy and I agreed. We all walked outside and waited for cabs. Mandy grabbed the first one, heading home. As the second one approached, my phone began to ring. It was probably someone from the office, wondering where I was. The cab slowed down, and Nikki opened the door as I reached into my purse.
I looked at my phone and it was a number that I did not know. Usually I ignore those calls, but I thought it might be someone related to my article.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hey, baby,” the voice came over the line. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach turned. Although I hadn’t heard his voice in over a year, I instantly knew who it was. Brad.
“Brad?” I asked, although I already knew the answer. Why was he calling me?
“So, you didn’t forget about me,” he laughed. “How are you?”
Nikki motioned for me to get into the cab, but I couldn’t move. I stood still, unsure of what to do or say.
“Hello?” Brad asked.
“Hang on,” I told Brad, covering my phone’s microphone. I whispered to Nikki to go ahead.
“It’s about my article,” I lied. She shook her head but told the driver to leave. She shut the door and drove off.
“Hello,” I said, returning to the phone call.
“I missed you,” Brad said. “I fucked up, Tiffany. I need you back.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After months of dreaming about this very moment, it was coming true.
“Why are you calling now?” I asked. “Where’s Jessica?”
“Jessica doesn’t matter,” Brad said. “I’m calling because I realized I messed up. We had a good thing going on. I just need to see you in person, Tiffany. Can you meet me tonight at Vito’s?”
Vito’s was my favorite restaurant. Brad and I went there a lot. I hadn’t been able to go there since our breakup, despite being a sucker for their menu.
“Tonight?” I asked. My head was spinning. Brad wanted to see me tonight. He was done with Jessica. He wanted me back.
“Please,” he begged. “I saw your picture on your company’s website. You look amazing, Tiffany. I saw how you were promoted. I can’t believe that you were promoted so quickly. They said it was the fastest promotion in the history of your company. I read the article about you leading the women’s empowerment classes. You really have your shit together. It made me realize how much I need you in my life.”
“You read about me?” I asked. I was shocked. I knew the company had put an article up about my promotion and my classes, but I hadn’t even read it yet.
“Yes,” Brad replied. “I can’t believe how much you’ve changed. You sound so confident and in control on your life. You’re actually doing something with your life now. You’re a writer and you are helping people.”
“I am,” I said. Despite him leaving me broken and with nowhere to go, I’d made something of myself, and I’d done it on my own. He had left me, but I’d risen from the ashes and became better than I ever was before.
“The funny thing is, I am opening a gym right down the street from your office. It would be perfect. You could tell all those women to come work out at my gym. We could build an empire together, babe.”
“Didn’t you already try that with Jessica?” I asked. He must have thought I was stupid. He sighed.
“Jessica doesn’t matter anymore,” he said. “She’s a bitch. I made a mistake. How many times do I need to tell you that?”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. Part of me wanted to see him. I wanted to forget the past year had ever happened. But, there was another part that was angry. He wasn’t allowed to just call me and expect me to meet up with him.
“Will you meet me tonight?” Brad asked. I could sense the desperation in his voice. He really wanted to see me.
“I’m not sure,” I finally spoke. Brad let out an exasperated sigh.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I have to go meet with this guy about my new gym, but I should be done with him about four. Text me before four if you want to go out tonight. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll get the hint and we can forget I ever called you.”
“Okay,” I said. It was all I could manage to say. I couldn’t tell him yes, but I couldn’t tell him no, either.
“Just promise me you will really think about it, Tiffany,” he said. “We have such a history together. We know each other better than anyone else does. We belong together. I know you are mad at me for how I left things, but we can get past this. I hope to hear from you soon.”
He hung up the phone, leaving me reeling. I sat down on a nearby bench to process what had happened.
Brad was back in town. He was single and wanted me back. He thought we could pick up where we had left off. My text message alert pinged. It had to be Brad, begging me via text. I looked down at my phone, prepared to read what he had written. Instead, I saw a text from Cayden.