“Hi, Austin,” my mom greeted him. She was sitting at the kitchen table.
“I’m going home, Grandma,” Austin told her. She nodded.
“I hope you feel better,” she told him. He got his shoes on and I helped him put his jacket on.
“I’ll probably take tomorrow off and take him to the doctor,” I told my mom. She nodded.
“Let me know how it turns out,” she said. “I just feel horrible for him.”
I walked outside, hand-in-hand with Austin. I got him into the car and walked around to my side of the car. Austin was already fast asleep when I got in. I’d a feeling that he was going to sleep for the remainder of the evening.
As I drove home, thoughts of Tiffany began to creep into my head. She was probably still at work since it wasn’t five yet, and I didn’t want to bother her if she was working. I was sure she was busy finishing her first article. I wondered if she would send me the first draft. I’d offered to look over it for her before she turned it into Tim. While I was excited to talk to her, I decided that I would wait until I got Austin settled at home and then I would call her.
About half an hour later, I’d Austin settled into his bed. I gave him some medicine and called his doctor to make an appointment for the morning. She said there was a virus going around. If it was the virus, she couldn’t do anything to help him, but she wanted to see him just in case it was something different.
Once I made sure that Austin was asleep, I closed his door and walked into my kitchen. I retrieved my phone from my pocket and dialed Tiffany’s number. The phone rang four times and then went to her voicemail. Strange. She almost always answered when I called. I looked at the clock. It was a few minutes after five. She may still have been at work or could be driving home. I didn’t want to overthink it, but I couldn’t help but feel that something was off when I’d run into her earlier.
I didn’t leave a voicemail. Instead, I opted for a text message.
Can’t wait to chat about your interview. Call me when you get a chance.
I hoped that she would either call or text me soon. I couldn’t shake this bad feeling that I suddenly felt. I’d wanted to ask her if something was wrong, but I decided against it last minute. I didn’t want her to think that I was having doubts about our relationship, or whatever it was, this early. I’d to remain calm and confident and continue to fight the fears that were creeping into my mind.
Can’t wait to chat about your interview. Call me when you get a chance.
I cleared Cayden’s text before I walked into the restaurant. I felt torn. I ignored his phone call and now was going to ignore his text, but I couldn’t talk to him at the moment. Brad was inside waiting for me.
I replayed my conversation with Brad over and over in my head. I couldn’t believe that he had called me and wanted to get back together. I was right. He and Jessica had broken up. I wasn’t losing my mind when I thought I’d seen her at the mall and him at the grocery store. I’d wanted to call Mandy to tell her that I was right, but I didn’t want the lecture. She would not be happy about this.
I walked inside but didn’t see Brad.
“Good evening,” a young, thin brunette hostess greeted me.
“Hi,” I said. “I am meeting someone here.”
Suddenly, the hostess blushed. She must have known that I was talking about Brad.
“Yes,” she said. “I sat him right over here.”
She led me inside the restaurant to a table near the window. Dusk was falling outside, and the last rays of the sun were illuminating the restaurant with a sexy glow. I saw Brad before he saw me. He looked exactly as I’d remembered. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a body that was out of this world. As the hostess and I approached him, he looked up and smiled.
“Thank you,” I said as we stopped at the table. I sat down, and she handed me a menu. Brad watched her as she walked away. I wanted to feel jealous, but I strangely didn’t feel anything at all. Maybe it was because I was used to him checking out other women in front of me. Or maybe it was because I knew that he was here for me.
“Hi,” I said, setting my menu down and looking at him.
“Hi,” he said, smiling at me. It felt so weird to be looking at him in person again. Part of me felt like no time had passed, while the other part of me felt like years had passed by.
“Thank you for meeting me,” he said. He genuinely seemed happy to see me. Maybe things had changed. Maybe he did realize his mistake and felt like an asshole for breaking up with me. Stranger things had happened.
“I was surprised that you called,” I admitted to him. He shrugged.
“I finally decided to call you,” he said. “I have been in town for a couple of weeks, but I wasn’t sure how you would react to a phone call from me. I thought about stopping by your work. I was actually near there this morning, but I didn’t want to cause a scene.”
“Thanks,” I said. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would have reacted to seeing you in person. I’m not sure how I feel right now.”
Brad looked at me with a puzzled expression.
“You should be happy,” he said. “I’m back.”
The way he spoke irritated me. While I’d missed him and had taken our breakup extremely hard, he acted as if he was doing me a favor by coming back to me. Maybe I was taking things the wrong way. Even if I was angry, I needed to give him a fair chance, right? Everyone deserved a second chance.
“I am happy,” I said. “It’s just…”
“You’re going to love my gym,” Brad interrupted me. “It’s seriously going to be the best gym in Miami. It’s only the beginning, Tiffany. I’m going to have a bunch of Brad’s Gyms worldwide.”
“Brad’s Gym?” I questioned. The name was tacky. I shouldn’t have been surprised that he included his own name in the gym’s name. It was a very Brad thing to do.
“Do you like the name?” he asked. “Jessica wasn’t a fan of it but screw her. She doesn’t realize greatness. Little bitch.”
His demeanor suddenly changed. He was no longer happy and carefree. He was bitter and hurt.
“What happened between you two?” I asked. He rolled his eyes.
“I’m not talking about her, Tiffany,” he said. “She doesn’t matter. She was a mistake.”
I wrinkled my nose. For someone who was a mistake, he sure seemed to care a lot about her. I began to wonder who broke up with who. Before I could ask any further questions, the waiter arrived with two drinks. He placed an iced water in front of me and a beer in front of Brad.
“Is iced water okay for you, ma’am?” he asked. I opened my mouth to tell him that I wanted a glass of wine, but Brad stopped me.
“She is good with iced water,” Brad said. “And, remember, we don’t want that free bread.”
No bread? I wanted to protest. The bread was one of the only reasons that I’d agreed to come to dinner. And was he really not allowing me to have a glass of wine when he was drinking beer?
“Yes, sir,” the waiter responded. “Are you two ready to order?”
“I’ll have the steak, medium, with roasted red potatoes and she will have a side salad with dressing on the side,” Brad told the waiter. He picked up the menus and gave them to the waiter. The waiter looked at me. I could tell that he was questioning Brad’s decision on my meal.
“Actually, I’m not in the mood for salad,” I told the waiter. “I’ll have the shrimp scampi and you can bring bread for me.”
I watched as a smirk formed on the waiter’s face. He was already visibly irked by Brad’s attitude.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “Steak, medium, with potatoes, shrimp scampi, and bread. I’ll put the order in right away.”
The waiter walked away, and Brad looked at me.
“Babe,” he said, “You have been doing so well lately with your weight loss. You have to continue to make healthy choices. If we’re going to be together, I need you to look good. I can’t own a chain of gyms and have a fat girlfriend. It would look bad for my business.”