“Talk to you next week,” I said with a smile then closed the skype window, my boss’s face disappearing.
I liked a lot of things about my job but 2am meetings wasn’t one of them. Thankfully, Jerry would be in the same time zone as me next week so we could talk at a normal time. I stood up and stretched then had my usual staring match with the freezer. I really didn’t need icecream at this time of the night but I was wide awake and hungry and I always lost the battle.
A minute later I was staring at the empty carton is despair. Who would finish the ice cream and put the empty carton back, who was that cruel? Since I lived alone I really didn’t want to answer that question. Silly psychological games I played with myself. I remembered my logic from three nights ago; if it’s empty, you’ll just go to bed without it. If I believed that I’m pretty sure there was a bridge I could buy in Sydney where my boss currently was.
Resigned to a trip to the nearby 24 hour convenience store, I pulled on boots and grabbed a jacket, shoved my phone and some cash into a pocket and was ready to go. Keys in hand I opened my front and came to a crashing halt. Was I dreaming?
His lips quirked up in a familiar half smile and he said my name, “Sienna.”
I didn’t think, I just reacted, stepping back and slamming the door shut. I was breathing as if I’d run 100 meters, my heart racing, my hands shaking. What was he doing here, after all these months. Did I even want to know?
I’d told myself I was over him, but one look, one breath in his presence and I knew what a liar I was. Maybe he was here to apologise for destroying my life? I almost laughed at that thought, as if he cared.
I closed my eyes and relived that moment, when he’d broken my heart. Reminded myself of the days after. The paparazzi turning up at my school, the curious looks from my co-workers, the students, their parents. The awkward meeting with the school board where they had told me I had become a liability to the school. I agreed with them. Having my name and picture on magazines as ‘Nico’s dumped ex’ wasn’t flattering.
I ended up resigning, my teaching career effectively over since no one wanted a drug/sex addict (depending on the tabloid) teaching their children. It was all lies of course and I’d gotten legal advice that netted me a neat payout and a retraction, for all the good that did.
My new boss was an old friend, we’d gone to school together and he ran a software development company. I tested software for him, it was ideal for me since it meant I didn’t have to leave my apartment. Interest in me as Nico’s ex hadn’t lasted long but I still encountered curious looks any time I went out, though lately they were more of the ‘I recognise you but I don’t know why’ looks, than the ‘you’re her’ ones I used to get.
I remembered those feelings, the embarrassment and the heartache, let the pain wash through me, a harsh reminder, then I opened the door.
“What do you want Nico?” I asked coolly, crossing my arms over my chest to hide my shaking hands.
“Nico? I thought I was Nick to you baby?”
I bit the inside of my cheek, the visceral pain not enough to keep me from reacting to his voice, the warmth in his gaze, his smile. I couldn’t respond to his comment, memories of him calling me baby were cascading through me, breaking me apart, but I was damned if I was going to let him see that.
“I was just on my way out,” I said and turned my back to him to close the door. “Nice seeing you,” I added casually as I brushed by him and started down the stairs.
I made it down one flight before I heard him behind me but I didn’t look back and he didn’t call out. I pushed through the front door and he was close enough behind me to catch it before it closed. Or course I noticed the car as soon as I looked up, his dream car, what else.
“Can I give you a lift Sienna?” He asked softly and I jumped, not having realised how close he was.
“No thanks,” I answered without looking at him. I shoved my hands into my pockets and kept walking.
“Sienna.” I felt his hand brush my arm and jerked away, I couldn’t let him touch me.
I stopped and turned to face him on the sidewalk. His face was half in shadows thanks to the nearby streetlight, so I couldn’t see his eyes which made it easier.
“Take a hint Nico, I’m not interested, leave me alone,” I said curtly then I waited for him to say something, react in some way but he just stood there. “Got it?” I asked a little desperately and took a step away from him.
“Sure baby, I got it,” he said with a smirk.
“Good,” I muttered then turned and walked away from him. If I listened for his footsteps, if I hoped he would come after me, I was the only one who knew. If I had to wipe away tears when I heard his car door slam, if I stifled a sob when the engine roared to life, I was the only one who knew that too.
By the time I walked into the store I had myself back under control, I doubled up on my usual tub of ice cream, I had a feeling I was going to need it.