I decided to go to school today. I had slept enough for two days worth and I couldn't afford to miss anymore classes. Also, I figured it would be good for me to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and be productive.
Luckily, my one class for the day was done so I had a lot of time catching up on my homework. Currently, I was sitting in the library getting some help from Pru. She was filling me in on the two classes I had missed yesterday.
After writing down a few things that Pru mentioned, I subconsciously put down my pen.
I thought that if I could get away from him, I could stop thinking about him but I was wrong. Because anytime I saw a tall guy, I thought of him; anytime I saw a guy in a suit, I thought of him; anytime I saw a guy with a watch, I thought of him; anytime I saw a guy with a similar haircut, I thought of him; anytime I saw a guy with hands in his pockets, I thought of him.
I put my elbows on the table, my head bent into my hands as I slightly gripped my hair. God, what was wrong with me? Was I going crazy? Ever since I realized I loved him, images of him had continuously appeared in my head. I couldn't turn it off like my world revolved around him.
"Grace, are you okay?" Pru asked from across the table, concern etched in her features.
My head snapped up. "Yeah. Sorry."
"Are you sure you're okay?" She looked skeptical. "You never missed classes and today you're acting weird."
"Yeah. Sorry." I repeated and gave her a forced smile. I knew that she knew there was something going with me but I wasn't ready to talk about it. If I started, I feared a dam would burst open.
"Please continue. What else did I miss?" I picked up my pen again. I jotted them down as she listed so I could work on them later.
After two and a half hours, we decided to go get some lunch. We went to a vegetarian restaurant that was famous for their salads. I didn't feel like eating greasy fatty foods today since they would probably give me indigestion.
Once we received our orders, we sat down at a table by the window. Seeing how I was barely eating my food, Pru remarked. "If I didn't know any better, I would think someone died in your family."
I looked up from my food. "Sorry."
She rolled her eyes and said with agitation. "Stop saying 'sorry' and tell me what's wrong."
At my silence, she added. "The way you're stabbing the life out of your salad, one would think you were jilted by a lover."
Something must have flashed in my eyes because she sucked in a breath. "Did something happen between you and Artemis?" She whispered, her eyes wide.
Before I could answer, someone arrived at our table. "Wow. 3 times in 4 days, this must be fate."
Pru and I turned to see Erin with a big smile on his face.
"Mind if I sit down?" He asked while pulling a chair out as he set his salad bowl down on our table.
"Not at all. Please sit." Pru had a grin on, just as big and bright, showing off her dimples.
"You left so quickly yesterday that I didn't have a chance to talk to you." He said looking at me with a smile still on his handsome boyish face.
Pru cleared her throat and pointed at Erin with her eyes trying to tell me to introduce her. "Oh um Erin, this is my best friend, Pru. Pru, this is Erin."
"Hi. Nice to meet you." Pru had her hand out eagerly, her dimples still showing.
I knew this face. It was the face of a woman in lust. I could practically see her imaginary drool dripping down one side of her mouth. I wanted to laugh despite my depressing mood.
Erin took her hand and gave her another one of his charming smiles. "Nice to meet you, Pru. Do you guys go to U of M as well?" He asked as he looked at the both of us.
Pru and I answered simultaneously.
"You go to U of M? Odd that we haven't seen you until now." Pru said curiously.
"Sorry. You guys talk, I have to go." I tried to excuse myself as I stood up since I wasn't in the mood to make conversations.
"Wait. You were going to tell..."
"Already? I barely get to talk..."
Pru and Erin said in unison.
I gave Erin a small smile. "We'll probably see each other again now that we know we go to the same school." I turned to Pru. " I'll talk to you later."
I put the cover over my plastic salad bowl and grabbed it along with my school bag. "See you guys later."
I walked back to the library in hopes of getting the rest of the work done. However, I gave up after trying for three hours. I couldn't concentrate no matter how hard I attempted to study, read the assigned chapters, or write my essay.
My heart continued to ache but at least it was getting slightly more bearable. However, once in a while, it would have a heart attack where it would tighten, my eyes would sting and tears would immediately follow. Fortunately, these attacks only lasted a few minutes.
I used to not understand why my friends took forever to get over their exes. I had reasoned that the jerks had treated them badly and cheated on them. Why couldn't they just let those scumbags go? It was easy for me to say those things as an outsider looking in—I saw things clearer and had no emotional attachment.
Now, being in the same situation, I finally understood why. When you care about someone, especially love someone, it was not so black and white. And your emotions dictated everything that you do—it was like your psychology took over the control room in your brain—logical and rational thoughts were thrown out the window.
After fighting a losing battle, I grabbed all my things and exited the library. I walked to a park half a mile away and found a bench by the pond. There were people walking, biking, and dogs running around but I zoned everything out. I was only aware of my thoughts.
I had almost the whole day to think—I couldn't do anything else or focus on anything else besides my own thoughts. It seemed like the more I tried to run away from the problem, the closer it stuck to me. Like a shadow, it was always right behind me no matter how far I ran. The more I didn't want to see him, the more I missed him. How did that even make any sense? But then again, love didn't have to make sense.
I knew I couldn't move on until I confront him, about what he did and why he did it. Maybe then I could get some closure and move on. Running away and avoiding him won't help me move on—it would only keep me stuck in this limbo where I hate him, love him, and hate myself for loving him.
I sighed in defeat as I stared blindly at the pond in front of me. I knew I had to face him and couldn't avoid this inevitable encounter any longer. I didn't want to go through the next few days like today where I could only think about him and nothing else. I looked at my watch and it was already 6 in the evening. I decided it was time to face my difficult issue head on.
I got up from my seat and walked wearily back to my car. I drove straight home without getting dinner—I didn't have an appetite and knew I couldn't stomach it anyway.
I got home and heard noises in the kitchen. I thought it was Artemis and I immediately turned into a coward. I thought I was ready half an hour ago but now that he was here, I realized I was afraid to face him, to hear what he might say.
After making it halfway to the stairs, Mrs. Sweetmire called after me. "Grace, I have dinner ready if you're hungry."
I turned around and met the old woman. "Oh hi Mrs. Sweetmire, I didn't realize you were here." I tried to give her a smile.
"The young Mr. Jame wanted me to come in case you needed something since he won't be home tonight." She informed me.
"Oh. Where he did go?" I asked before I could stop myself. Ugh. I shouldn't care where he went.
"He said he'll stay at a hotel for the mean time."
"Oh." I sounded pathetically disappointed.
Seeing that I wasn't going to say more, she asked. "Would you want dinner?"
"Um sure." I paused and then added. "I'll be right down after my shower."
As I stood under the warm water raining down on me, I couldn't help but wonder what he was doing at a hotel. Was he trying to give me space and avoiding me? My mind couldn't stay rational and only thought of the worst—he was probably staying there with Samantha.
After 5 minutes of bawling my eyes out at my stupid thoughts, I wiped at my face angrily. If this was what he wanted then I just have to accept it. I certainly couldn't force him to love me. Even though I pretended to accept it, it still didn't hurt any less.
I got out of the shower, dried myself, and put on my pajamas.
I went downstairs with the mission of eating as much as I could. I knew I had to start taking care of myself. The food looked delicious but they tasted bland in my mouth. After finishing half of my dinner—more like forcing myself to swallow—I went back upstairs.
After pacing back and forth for almost two hours, I gave up and went to bed. Even sleep was picking on me and eluded me. I kept tossing and turning for I didn't know long until I hear the doorbell.
I got out of bed and went downstairs as Mrs. Sweetmire got the door.
Nate came in with an unconscious Artemis—he held Artemis's arm over his shoulders while his other hand held Artemis's waist.
I quickly ran toward them. "What's wrong with him?" I asked full of concern.
"He got drunk." Nate stated prosaically.
"Oh." I let out a big sigh of relief and added. "I thought he was staying at a hotel tonight."
"He was. I had one booked for him." Nate answered and then continued sheepishly. "But after he had too many drinks with Dr. Carter, he kept telling me to take him home to where you are."
I blushed silently.
"Alright." Mrs. Sweetmire spoke up. "Let's quit standing around and bring him up to his room so he can properly lay down and rest."
"Yes. Please. He's actually quite heavy." Nate commented as he started lugging Artemis toward the stairs with the help of Mrs. Sweetmire.
Nate looked to be the same age as Artemis but he was a couple inches shorter and had a similar build.
We got to his room and Nate laid him down. After Mrs. Sweetmire left, Nate said. "Look Miss Taylor, I don't know what's going on between you two but I hope you wouldn't misunderstand the young Mr. Jame."
"What do you mean?" I was completely clueless. Like boss, like assistant—they loved to talk in riddles.
"It's really not my place to say so I can't tell you too much. I'm sure the young Mr. Jame will tell you when he's ready. However, one thing I can tell you is that he cares deeply about you so please give him a chance."
I was too confused to comprehend what he just said as he turned his head to look at Artemis. I almost wanted to throw out a sarcastic remark saying, ‘give him a chance to what? To break my heart?’ But I stopped myself.
"I’m an orphan." He blurted out randomly and I waited to see what he was going to say next. "I have been with the young Mr. Jame since he was twelve. His father had sent me with him to keep him company when we traveled to Europe. We're like brothers and I have never seen him drink this much. He has always been sober when he drinks since he likes to stay alert. But this time he had let himself go." He turned back to face me. "I know something really bothers him and it concerns you."