It had been a week since the incident. I had an emergency surgery due to an almost ruptured appendix.
When I woke up from my surgery, my mom, Pru and Erin were all present. My dad couldn't make it since he was out of town. Even though I was happy to see their faces, I couldn't help feeling disappointed at not seeing the one face that I wanted to see the most—Artemis's.
In the end, I decided not to tell him about my surgery since I didn't want him to worry. I knew he couldn't fly back in time anyway so it would be better just to let him finish his work in peace and inform him later.
He was still very bad at replying to my texts. He would reply to one out of every five and him being 5 hours ahead probably had very little to do with it.
Another thing that bugged me and I couldn't quite let it go was the fact that he still didn't say 'I love you' back whenever I texted him those 3 precious words. He couldn’t even amuse me by saying it just once to make me happy.
I knew actions speak louder than words but words were important too. I wanted both actions and affirmations. Currently, both seemed to be lacking from my perspective. Maybe I’m more selfish and insecure than I thought.
As I brushed my teeth getting ready for school, I couldn't help but let my insecurities run rampant. I knew I had wanted to give him time to figure things out for himself before he said those words. However, as more time passed, I started to get extremely impatient. The longer he didn't say it back, the more I doubt the love he had for me, or the lack there of.
What if he never figured it out? How long was I willing to wait? What would I tolerate or not tolerate from him? What if he continued to never be around when I needed him most? What if he continued to be a workaholic and always put work and revenge first? Would I be okay with being second or even third?
Every night, as I laid in bed missing him, these questions would keep replaying in my head. I never got close to getting any answers no matter how many times I thought about them. Finally, I decided I would have to talk to him once I see him tonight when he came home.
After finishing my morning routine, I looked down at my belly as I pulled on a loose cream sweater. There were three scars present on my flat pelvis now: two about the length of one inch and one about the length of two inches. The bigger incision was where they took out the appendix. The wounds weren't tender anymore unless I press on them.
Luckily, it wasn’t a major surgery so I could still go to school; I just couldn't carry anything heavy. I've been leaving my weighty textbooks at home to reduce the strain on my body. My school campus was enormous and it took a while for me to walk to and from classes.
Since I've been taking strong pain killers, I wasn't allowed to drive. Erin had been nice enough to pick me up to and from school. I had asked Pru for the ride but it was out of her way while Erin lived closer. Hence, he eagerly volunteered to be my chauffeur.
Technically, I could drive today. I had stopped taking the prescribed medication two days ago and had switched over to the weaker over-the-counter meds. But Erin insisted on driving me until the end of the week which was today.
I had not known that he lived only a few blocks away. His family owned an apartment building nearby so he stayed in one of the available spaces.
After grabbing my school bag, I looked at my watch and it was 7 a.m. Erin should be here soon so I made my way to the elevator and down to the main floor.
Erin was a dependable guy. He always showed up on time and easy to get along with. I was fond of him but I wasn't sure how to go about our friendship. I thought back to the conversations I had with Pru after my surgery in the recovery room.
"Hey." Pru smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"As good as I can in these kind of situations I guess." I said unenthusiastically since my mouth felt like sandpaper.
"You scared the hell out of me when you doubled over at the restaurant. Erin immediately picked you up and we ran as fast as we could to the car. Fortunately, there was a hospital nearby so we didn't have to drive far."
"What happened at the restaurant?"
"You don't remember?"
"Just bits and pieces." I thought for a second and then asked. "Did Erin claim to be my boyfriend or something along that line?"
Pru laughed. "Yah, he did. He thought he was saving you from embarrassment."
"Embarrassment?" I was beyond confused.
"Yeah. He uh..." Pru paused for a second and then laughed again. "After seeing your encounter with Samantha and Artemis at the restaurant plus seeing you alone at the gala. He had assumed that you were seeing Artemis behind Samantha's back."
"Wait. What?!" I was dumbfounded by his assumptions. "So he thought I was the third person?"
"Yup. You're The Other Woman." Pru couldn't hold in her laughters.
"You're not mad?"
"About what? Him claiming to be your boyfriend?" Pru shrugged. "Not really. I was slightly disappointed at first but I was prepared for the rejection since I had a feeling he likes you."
"Wait. What rejection?" I kept being thrown off.
"Well..." Pru fidgeted looking somewhat uncomfortable in her seat. "As we were sitting in the waiting during your surgery, I told him you're in a complicated relationship and that I liked him and he immediately shot me now."
"What?!" My shock pulled at my stitches and I grimaced as my hand pressed on my belly. Who would out right reject my beautiful smart friend?
"Yup. But I have to admit, I do admire him for knowing what he wants." She smiled genuinely. "He wasn't wishy washy about it and went straight to the point."
"I'm sorry Pru." I said sadly. "It's his loss."
"Yup. He definitely missed out." She chuckled. She seemed to take it better than I thought. "Don't look at me like that. I'm really okay. I only liked him for a few days, not long enough to create a dent in my heart. Anyway." Pru turned mischievous. "He said he wanted to introduce me to his friend Andy so guess who's going on a date tomorrow? This girl." She pointed her thumb at herself.
“So you’re going to the game with him?”
“Yup. I’m actually kind of excited.” She said animatedly.
“I hope you guys have a great time!” I returned the smile.
“I’m sure we will.” She grinned confidently.
The elevator dinged and I walked out through the main entrance. Right on the dot, there sat Erin’s yellow Audi which stood out like a sore thumb. Before I got to the car, he got out and opened the passenger door for me.
“Morning.” I grinned.
“Morning.” He responded brightly.
“Thank you.” I said as I got in before he closed the door.
“Have you had breakfast yet?” He asked after he started driving.
“No yet. I was planning on getting some once we got to school.”
“Do you like pancakes?”
He laughed at my cheekiness. “Well, I know this place that has the best pancakes. Do you think we have time to get some?”
“Sure. If we can finish eating and get to school by 8 o’clock.”
“I can make that work.” He said with confidence and a smirk on his lips.
The place he took us to was on the way to school so it worked out perfectly. Also, he was right about the pancakes—they were a-may-zing!
I ordered strawberry pancakes with extra strawberries and extra whipped cream while he had blueberry pancakes. I couldn’t finish mine because the pancakes were huge like they were meant for two people instead of one. Erin ended up finishing mine along with his. Man, this guy can eat!
Finally, we arrived at school and had just enough time for me to get to class. Time flew by today and before I knew it, I was back in Erin’s car ready to go home. I was eager to get home since Artemis had texted that he landed an hour ago.
I texted back as Erin started driving: Are you home? I can’t wait to see you *smiley face emoji*
He replied: No. I’m at the office. An urgent matter came up.
My heart sank. He just landed and he was already back at the office working. Without thinking, I asked Erin to take me to the Jame Tower instead of home.
“What are you going to do there?” He asked skeptically.
Oh that’s right! Erin thought that I was trying to get with Artemis even though he was already with Samantha. I’ve been meaning to talk to Erin about this so he wouldn’t misunderstand me but I never knew how to bring it up.
“Umm Erin...I think you mis...” I tried to explain but he cut me off.
“It’s okay, Grace. You don’t have to explain. I know you’re a good girl and you’re just stuck in a bad situation.”
“No. That’s not...” I tried again.
“It’s all right.” He reached over and squeezed my hand. “You’re a smart girl. I’m sure you’ll figure things out soon enough.” He looked sideways at me to give me a reassuring smile and added. “And I’ll be here when you do.”
I sighed and gave up my attempt at clarifying the situation.
We arrived at the building but instead of dropping me off at the main entrance, he decided to park in the underground parking lot.
“You don’t have to wait for me.” I tried to tell him. “I can find a ride back.”
“I’ll be here for the next 30 minutes in case you need me.” He said stubbornly as he smiled knowingly at me.
I resigned. He was more stubborn than me and I knew I couldn’t win. I took the elevator up to the main floor and then another one to Artemis’s office.
When I passed by his secretary, she tried to stop me with a, “Wait Miss!” But I ignored her because I couldn’t wait to see my husband anymore. I pulled open the double opaque glass doors and froze at the sight in front of me—there stood Nate, Samantha, and two Artemises.
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Uh oh. What’s going on? Any guesses?
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