Nyah: “I like the notes. They’re turning out to be very helpful.”
Thaddeus was sprawled on his bed, already comfy in his shorts and white shirt, ruffling through the cases that I have read and the notes I have made. He added to the stack some books that he had taken home from his classes, and some folders that probably has his new readings. I sat next to him, moving some of his stuff aside. He placed his hand on the small of my back, and I could feel the heat from his palm coursing through the thin fabric of my shirt.
“Thanks,” I told him, and he was looking up at me expectantly. He knows I am about to reveal something. I breathed deeply.
“I am going home,” I said, “tomorrow.”
“Figured just as much,” he said, and he shifted positions so that he was seated next to me. I moved closer and leaned my body against his, his hand wrapping around my waist, and I intertwined my fingers with his, letting out a contented sigh. I felt so at home with Thaddeus, and I am liking this setup even though I had experienced it just for two nights. He is that guy, that guy whom I would have wanted to be with had I not been in love with Joshua. That sane and better option the heavens had offered me. That option that is still open for me even if I didn’t choose it the first time out.
Is this my second crack at that option?
I wouldn’t dare think about that now, not when I am confused. Not when I still hurt after Joshua just dumped me after a “pregnancy” that we thought was really there. Not when I know that even the littlest cell in my heart and every hormone in my hypothalamus still screams for Joshua. Not when I still love him, very, very much, even though he doesn’t want me anymore.
I knew better than to look at Thaddeus when I heard the longing, the plea, the thirst (and maybe lust) in his voice, but I did. Screw me, but I really did. I turned to look at him and he let out an agonizing moan before crushing his lips onto mine, his kiss needing, wanting to feel more than what I could offer. When I couldn’t breathe anymore, I gently pushed him away, the power and intensity of his kiss—this kiss—sucking out all energy and emotion from me.
“I won’t apologize for that,” Thaddeus said, his voice raspy, eyes that I love so fiery.
“I am not asking for one,” I answered, and I looked away from him, facing front once more. He was rubbing my back in a way that was comforting, eliciting another sigh—a heavy version this time—from me.
“I hate it that you’re always there for me,” I said, and a dry laugh escaped Thaddeus’s mouth. “I told you I wouldn’t get tired of that,” he said, and I shook my head. “One day, you will. You’d get tired of being just my fallback, Thad, and actually, you deserve even better than what I give you,” I told him, and it was his turn to sigh.
“Maybe I’m just hoping that a little bit of the love that you have for that kiddo will overflow for me. That, via mere exposure effect, you would fall in love with me eventually,” he said, and I wasn’t even sure if he was teasing for his voice sounded real serious. I turned to look at him and saw a playful smile on his face, so he probably was teasing me.
“Thad…” I breathed, and he held up both his hands. “I know, I know. Joshua,” he said resignedly, and I nodded.
“You know, I am just so lucky I have you. That lady you’d be unconditionally in love with and who will unconditionally love you back will feel like she has won that grand prize in the lottery once she meets you,” I told him, my voice sincere. He reached out and touched my cheek.
“Joshua should realize how much this hurts you too,” he said. “And not just this, but everything—his mother, his past, and what the people around you say about you and this relationship you have with him.”
I smiled bitterly. “Ah, you heard a bunch of harsh words too, huh,” I said, and he nodded. Ever since that incident—scandal, in the words of Desiree—that Lucille had caused, whenever the people in my building see me, I expect to hear some words like “cradlesnatcher,” “slut,” or “the woman whose boyfriend is in high school” in their whispers. Some would raise eyebrows when I pass by them, as if they expect Joshua to pop out of nowhere, carrying my things and following me around like a dog. I was probably the juiciest and best gossip that they’ve heard—and saw—in the past decade. It wasn’t fair to be judged based on the anger of one scorned mother.
“I chose this, Thad. I know with you it would have and could have been easier—less complicated—”
“And less love,” Thaddeus cut in, and I was about to issue a protest when he sharply shook his head. “Ny,” he just said, words failing him. I nodded, knowing what he meant. I comforted both of us by hugging him, and he hugged me back—tightly—and we stayed that way for a long time. He released me, and then said, “One day I have to realize loving you is bad for me.”
I laughed, and I pinched his nose. “I hope before that one day comes I realize that you’re the better for me,” I told him, and he just smiled. He picked up the papers we have neglected for the past thirty minutes or so, and I nodded.
“Time for us to talk about legal battles,” I said, and he handed me a new case to digest.