Erin and I arrived at the hotel where the party was held. I had on a shimmery silver long sleeve round neck floor-length gown that split down on one side at the thigh. I was lucky to have found this dress at the last minute. Pru had helped me with my hair and makeup before going on her date with Andy.
“You look stunning tonight.” Erin eyed me with appreciation. I wished Artemis would give me the same look when he sees me. “As stunning as that first time I saw you.”
“Thanks. You don’t look bad yourself.” I replied, slightly embarrassed at the praise and look of admiration.
We entered the reception area with my hand in the crook of Erin’s arm. I looked all over and didn’t see Artemis. I was half disappointed and half relieved—disappointed because I wanted to see him but relieved because at least then I wouldn’t have to catch him doing something wrong.
“What? Are you disappointed that Artemis is not here?” Erin asked after seeing my somber countenance.
“Am I that obvious?” I complained.
He chuckled. “Yes. Very. You’re like an open children’s book—very easy to read.”
I made a face. “That was an insult right?”
He let out a hearty laugh. “Actually, that was supposed to be a compliment. I like that you’re easy read, I don’t have to walk on eggshells around you trying to figure out what you’re thinking or planning for that matter.” He spoke as if he had a lot of experiences in being manipulated by others—women specifically.
“So why did you bring me knowing that I was using you to see Artemis?” I asked curiously.
“Who said I didn’t have other motives?” He asked with mischief evident in his blue eyes. “Who knows, maybe I was hoping you would catch him with that woman we met at the restaurant again and finally decided once and for all not to be a part of the triangle anymore. And then maybe, just maybe give me a chance.” He winked at me at the last part.
It never was a triangle. Erin wouldn’t understand. But then I thought about it and he might have a point. If it wasn’t, why would I feel like this—like I had to compete with Samantha, like I had to fight for his attention, like I had to fight for his trust, like I had to fight for the number one spot, like I had to fight to be part of his priorities.
Maybe I was the third person after all, not in the traditional sense but in a sense that I was never first or second.
As if on cue, in the corner of my eye, I caught Artemis and Samantha coming in through a door at the opposite end of the room. My hand immediately tightened on Erin’s arm which alerted him to follow my gaze.
“Speak of the devil.” He said to no one in particular.
My eyes were locked on the couple as they walked into the reception area, greeting one person after another as they passed.
My heart clenched as anger and resentment bubbled to the surface. God, the nerve! This is the last straw.
Every time we fought and then made up, I would be too happy to remember to bring Samantha up in our discussions. However, that won’t happen again tonight. Tonight, I will make sure to make everything as clear-cut-black-and-white as I can.
Artemis and Samantha seemed to be oblivious of me as they went about conversing with other people. Finally, as she was saying something to him while turning her head in my direction that her eyes caught me.
A smirked formed on her bright red lips as her eyes challenged me. After a few seconds of a stare down, she grabbed his face and planted a kiss on his lips.
My eyes immediately saw red and I wanted to rip the blonde hair off of her pretty head. Artemis instantly seized her wrists and stepped back at the surprise attack.
He saw her smug face and turned to follow her glare to see what or who she was looking at. His eyes narrowed the moment they landed on Erin and I.
I stood, my heart in my throat as I waited for him to walk toward me, to apologize, to explain, to...anything. But he didn’t move and there was no emotion on his handsome face. Even the crease between his brows was gone.
Eventually, I couldn’t wait any longer. I turned and walked out of the room.
“Hey. Are you okay?” Erin asked a few steps behind me.
I didn’t answer. All I wanted to do was get out of there as fast as I could. I quickened my steps and fell down hard as I tripped over my own feet.
My left ankle hurt and I started crying at my pitiful situation.
Erin knelt down next to me, grabbed my shoulders and tried lifting me up. “Come on. I’ll take you home.”
I yelped when I stood and tried putting weight on my left foot. Erin immediately scooped me up and carried me to the car.
“Put me down.” I hissed. “People are looking.”
“Let them look.” He answered easily.
“Just put me down, I can walk. I sprained my ankle in high school during track practice and my coach still made me run so this is nothing.” I tried to reassure him.
“Just stop being so stubborn and let me carry you.”
“Look who’s talking.” I huffed and crossed my arms. “You’re just as stubborn as me or even more so.”
He chuckled and let the argument drop.
As he walked, I kept straining my neck to look back hoping with all my heart that Artemis had followed us and chased me down. However, there was no one behind us and that fact made my heart sinks lower.
“He’s not coming.” Erin said as if stamping down my last shred of hope. “Just let him go, Grace. He’s not worth it.”
We arrived at the entrance and waited for the valet to bring the car around. I started crying again when we were in the car.
“It’s not that easy.” I said through stinging eyes as tears spilled over.
“What’s not easy? Letting go? Yes, it is, if the person treats you like trash.” Erin said harshly.
“You don’t understand, we’re married.” I said without much conviction as if that explained everything.
“So you said and yet I have not seen a ring on you nor on him.” Erin declared bluntly as he drove out of the hotel and onto the street.
“But he loves me.” I willfully listed out the excuses.
“Love you enough to make you priority number one?” He countered just as obstinately.
I stayed silent.
“I thought so.” He stated plainly.
As we made into my street, I suddenly remembered and quickly demanded, “Please take me to a hotel.” I didn’t want to go home and see Artemis tonight. I just couldn’t face him right now, I wasn’t ready. I needed time to get all my thoughts together so when I see him again, I would present my case in an articulated manner.
“Why don’t you stay at my place? I have extra guest rooms.” At my silence, he continued to explain. “I don’t want you to be alone tonight and Pru is out on a date with Andy.”
Even though a part of me knew I should have said no to the offer, what came out of my mouth was, “Sure. Thank you.”
He was delighted at my acceptance.
Although I knew it was a bad idea but somehow I went with it anyway. I probably did it because maybe deep down I knew that it would piss Artemis off and I wanted him to be mad.
I knew I was being petty and spiteful and I didn’t care. I just wanted the pain to go away because it hurt so much and if it meant hurting him to make it happen then I was willing to do it at this very moment.
I knew I wasn’t being rational but who could when anger was currently the dominant emotion.
By the time we got to Erin’s apartment, it was 8:00 p.m. He had ordered us pizza but I couldn’t stomach even one bite.
After a while, he changed out of his black tuxedo and bow tie and into a t-shirt and pajama pants. “You wanna get into something more comfortable?” He asked as he handed me an outfit.
I robotically took it and went into a different room to change. The shirt and pants were both big on me but it worked. I just had to pull the strings around the waist and tied it tightly.
I came back into the living room and Erin talked some more—mainly about how I should move on and this was not healthy.
I was half listening and half looking at my phone but it never rang. Artemis never even bothered to call me. My heart deflated at the thought and my stomach tightened as tears pooled in my eyes. I just couldn’t believe he could be so heartless.
“Okay. I’ll stop talking.” Erin said immediately seeing my tears. “That was enough for one night.”
He moved from the seat across from me to sitting next to me. “What do you wanna do? How about a movie?”
I blankly nodded and he turned on the T.V. While we were watching something, I wasn’t paying attention, my phone rang. I instantly sat up and seized it in one quick motion.
I saw The Playboy displayed on my phone. My heart soared—somewhat happy that he finally called. However, I just stared at it and let it ring until it went into voicemail. He called a few more times after that but I continued to let it ring and never picked up.
An hour and a half later, it was passed midnight, the doorbell rang and woke us both up. We had fallen asleep against each other on the couch. Erin went to get the door and I sleepily followed him. Erin opened it while I rubbed my heavy eyes and there stood Artemis—still in his tuxedo with a scowl on his face.
Ugh. Artemis! Why are you so...so irritating? Don’t you guys agree? Lol