“She’s at her house,” I told him. “She got a present for you, though. I’ll give it to you at home, okay, buddy?”
I watched as Austin smiled.
“Tiffany got me a present?” he asked. “What is it?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “We’ll see when we get home.”
“I can’t wait,” Austin said. “Tiffany must really like me if she got me a gift!”
A short while later, we were settled in at home. Austin sat on the couch, excited to see what Tiffany had got him. I gave him the bag and he dove in after the toy. Seconds later, he produced the purple dinosaur.
“Bonkers!” he exclaimed. “How did she find this? How did she know that I wanted this dinosaur?”
I smiled, pleased that he was so excited to receive the gift.
“Christmas magic,” I told him. “Do you love it?”
Austin nodded enthusiastically.
“Miss Tiffany is the best,” he said, hugging the dinosaur. “I wish she was here right now, so I could give her a big hug and tell her thank you. Can we call her, Daddy?”
I shook my head.
“She’s busy right now, buddy,” I lied. “We can try later.”
Austin nodded and dashed off with his dinosaur.
“I’m going to go play in my bedroom,” he yelled to me.
I walked to the kitchen and poured myself a drink. I needed it tonight. As I put the ice in my cup, I thought about how Tiffany and I were here less than twenty-four hours ago. Things were good. We had a great night with my family, and an amazing hookup. But, now, our future was unknown. Just like that, things were completely ruined.
I wondered what happened after I left. Did Brad return? Did he just take my spot at the dinner table, picking up his relationship where it had left off? I still couldn’t believe that Tiffany’s mom had invited him over. Was she trying to cause trouble? Based on what Tiffany had told me, I would believe it. She was an evil woman.
I sat down on the couch and sipped my drink. I couldn’t get Tiffany off my mind. Part of me wanted to text her to tell her how much Austin liked the gift, but I didn’t want to open that door. I knew that she would want to talk about what had happened earlier. I wasn’t ready to talk about it. I wasn’t sure when I would ever be ready to talk about it.
Tiffany had royally screwed up by not telling me about Brad. Would I have been mad if she told me about meeting up with him? Of course, but at least she wouldn’t be a liar. I think that was the part that irked me the most. She had lied to me, multiple times. I gave her many chances to explain what was wrong and she kept telling me that nothing was wrong. How could I trust her after this?
I thought about calling Sarah to vent about it, but I didn’t want to take her away from her family on Christmas. I also thought about texting Allen, but I knew that he would just tell me to get over it by getting under someone new. He never got upset about a girl, he just moved on to the next one.
As I sat and drank, I began to get angry. I was angry at Tiffany for seeing Brad behind my back. I was angry at Brad for being an asshole. I was angry at Tiffany’s mom for inviting Brad over. Mostly, I was angry at myself for getting into this situation in the first place. I was also angry that I’d introduced Tiffany to my family. I should have never let Austin get to know her.
I was glad that I wouldn’t have to see her until at least Monday. I wouldn’t contact her before then and if she tried to contact me, I would ignore her. I needed to take some time to think about what I wanted to do next. Although I was angry, I didn’t want to act irrationally, especially since we still worked together.
Austin came into the living room with both the purple and green dinosaurs. He hopped up next to me on the couch and began to play with them.
“Did you have a good Christmas, buddy?” I asked him. He looked up at me and smiled as he nodded his head.
“It was awesome!” he exclaimed. “I got both dinosaurs and a ton of other toys! I’d so much fun today. Christmas is the best!”
I smiled. No matter what happened between Tiffany and I, I was happy that I’d given Austin a Christmas that he deserved. He was happy, and that was all that mattered to me.
“I love you, Austin,” I whispered to Austin, kissing his forehead.
“I love you, Daddy,” Austin said, snuggling closer to me.
I walked into the office, dreading giving a speech to my co-workers. We were picking up right where we left off, on gaining confidence and being a strong woman. A strong woman. I wanted to laugh. There had been nothing strong about me this weekend. I’d laid on the couch all weekend, filling my face with carbs. I turned my phone off for the entire weekend, too. I didn’t want to talk to Brad, my mom, or Cayden. Even if I’d wanted to talk to Cayden, I knew he didn’t want to talk to me.
I didn’t even try to call or text him after he left my mom’s house. There was nothing to say. I’d fucked up by not telling him about Brad. I was caught red-handed. After Brad and Cayden left, I’d gone into my mom’s house to grab my purse. She was sitting at the table with a smirk on her face. She had done this on purpose. She loved to cause chaos in my life.
I’d picked my purse up and left without a word. She knew what she had done. If my mom couldn’t be happy, no one else could be happy either. I wanted to call my sister to tell her what happened, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone about it. I did finally break down and tell Mandy on Friday, only because she had advised me on hiding the truth from Cayden.
Mandy was more sympathetic than I deserved. I guess she was just playing the part of my best friend. She didn’t tell me that I was a bitch and had screwed up everything with Cayden. She just told me to lay low during the long weekend and try to talk to Cayden on Monday. I listened to her. After my meeting today, I was going to find Cayden and tell him that we needed to talk.
I hoped that he would want to give me a second chance. I knew that I’d fucked up, but I wanted to tell him that things between me and Brad were officially over. After seeing Brad, I realized that he wasn’t the one for me. He didn’t bring anything useful into our relationship. He used me.
Realizing how badly Brad treated me made me realize how good Cayden did. Even though I’d made a mistake, I deserved to be loved. I deserved to be happy. I silently said a prayer, hoping that Cayden would forgive me. I knew that it might take time for him to trust me again, but I was willing to wait.
“How was your break?” Nikki asked as I walked into the conference room. “How was meeting Cayden’s family?”
I’d texted her on Tuesday afternoon to tell her about going to meet Cayden’s parents and Austin. I suddenly wished that I’d kept my mouth shut. I would have to pretend that everything was fine. I didn’t want her thinking that there was trouble in paradise. She would just tell Maurice and he would report back to Cayden, making it an even bigger mess. I didn’t want to deal with that.
“It was good,” I said. I wasn’t lying. It was good. It was just the part after that where I screwed up.
“That’s good,” Nikki said. “I met Maurice’s family this weekend, too. Things are going well for us. I think we are going to head to a club downtown for New Year’s Eve. Do you and Cayden want to join us?”
“I’ll ask him,” I said, although I’d no intention of asking him. I knew the last thing that he wanted to do was make New Year’s Eve plans with me. Plus, Cayden didn’t seem like the type to party at a club for New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t that type, either. I would much rather stay in with Cayden and Austin, even though I knew it was probably a long shot. I doubted that Cayden wanted to hang out with me on New Year’s Eve. I would probably be at home, alone, just like last year.
The other women began to come into the conference room. They were buzzing with stories about Christmas and the long weekend. As they sat down, I took my spot at the head of the table.
“Good morning, ladies,” I said. “I hope you all had a great weekend. Any stories that you’d like to share?”
A co-worker, Lisa, raised her hand. I pointed to her, letting her know that it was okay to speak.