“Holy shit,” she whispers, knowing how big this is for me.
“I know,” I whisper back, smiling.
“Girl, I’m so happy for you. Even if things don’t work out with him, I’m glad you’re at least going to get out of that bubble you’ve placed yourself in and try to live a little.”
“Well, I don’t even know what I’m doing, and I doubt he will stick around for long after he realizes I’m a crazy, but I want to see what happens,” I tell her, meaning it from the bottom of my soul.
“You’re not crazy, Sophie. You had a traumatic experience. You just need to realize you’re not broken and that the past has made you a stronger person. I love you, and Devon loves you. You deserve to be happy.”
“I’m happy,” I say, feeling a little defensive.
“I know you think you’re happy, honey, but you’ve been locking yourself up for way too long. Living a life in solitude is not happiness.”
“I’ve gotten better,” I whine.
“You have. I agree,” she concedes.
“I just need time,” I add quietly.
“You’ve had plenty of time, girl,” she says, sounding frustrated.
“What do you want me to do?” I ask exasperatedly.
“I want you to talk to someone about what happened.”
“I talk to you.”
“I know you’ve told me everything, but this is something I can’t help you with. You need to talk to someone who deals with this kind of thing,” she says gently.
“Maybe I shouldn’t go out with him until I figure things out for myself,” I say, my stomach pitching. The feeling surprises me, making me realize I how much I do want to see him again.
“Do not use your past as an excuse to not live your life. This guy is the first one you have been interested in. To me, that says it all. Date him and see what happens. Maybe you can open up to him about your past, but while you’re doing that, find a professional to talk to as well.”
“I know you’re right, but I’m afraid,” I admit.
“Which tells me you’re still living in that moment. Honey, that was years ago. Yes, it was a horrible thing that happened to you, but luckily it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”
Her words make me shudder, but I know she’s right. I think my mom’s death and the events that happened after I lost her are still plaguing me. It’s hard to get close to people when you realize how quickly they can be taken away.
“I know it could have been a lot worse, and I need to start living again… I just don’t know how.”
“One day at a time. Every day, push yourself to do something you’re afraid of. And find a group or a counselor to talk to!” She practically yells the last part.
“I’ll try,” I promise.
“Don’t try. Do.”
“Okay.” I sigh.
“So, are you still coming home for your fitting?” she asks, changing the subject.
“Yes.” I smile. “And my dress better not be ugly.”
“Girl, you should know by now your dress is going to be hideous. I do not want you to outshine me at my own wedding.”
“Like that could ever happen.” I laugh.
Maggie is one of the most beautiful people I know. Her long, lean body with skin the color of dark chocolate makes her honey-colored eyes pop; that, along with her long reddish-brown hair she has kept in thin dreadlocks since she was little, makes her even more exotic-looking.
“Oh please, girl. You know you’re hot,” she says, growling the end.
“I love you,” I tell her, feeling tears sting my eyes.
“You know I love you too, girl. Okay, enough of this mushy shit. Tomorrow, when this guy leaves, I expect you to call me and tell me every detail.”
“Promise. Talk to you then,” I say, listening to her goodbye before hanging up.
I close my eyes and then open them up, looking at the ceiling feeling a sense of hope when I say aloud to myself, “Don’t try. Do.”
I pull up in front of Sophie’s house and look around the neighborhood. It’s a quiet area where the people—mostly middle class—who work in downtown Nashville live. I pick up the flowers I bought for her off the passenger’s seat and make my way up to her front porch, noticing the flowers that line the walkway and the hanging plants along the front of her house. I stretch my neck before knocking once. I can hear music playing on the other side of the door and then some kind of banging. After a few seconds, I hear a couple of locks turn. Then the door is opened and Sophie is standing there. Her hair is up on top of her head, her cheeks are flushed, and my eyes travel down her body to see that she’s wearing a plain black tank top and jeans with bare feet, her toes painted a deep purple.
“Hi,” she says softly, and my eyes leisurely come back up her body to meet hers.
“Hey,” I greet as she opens the door farther, stepping back for me to enter.
“Did you find it okay?” she asks.
My brain takes a second to process her words; I’m still stuck on her bare feet and how sexy she looks dressed in jeans. “Yeah. I don’t live far from here.” I watch as her eyes look me over, and I see nervousness, but also hunger. We both stand there staring at each other, but then her eyes travel down to my hand and get humorously big. “These are for you.” I lift my hand, righting the flowers and awkwardly holding them out to her.
“Oh, wow. Thank you,” she says breathily, taking the flowers from my hand and bringing them to her face to smell them. After a few moments of just watching her appreciate my simple gift, my dick is already trying to inch closer to her through the roughness of my jeans. She seems to shake herself and tells me, “Um…dinner is cooking. I hope you don’t mind pasta.”
“It smells great,” I say, breathing in through my nose, the smell of garlic and freshly baked bread assaulting me.
“I didn’t even think to ask you if you could eat carbs.”
“What?” I ask, confused.
“Well, you’re all muscles. I know that a lot of weight trainers don’t eat pasta,” she says matter-of-factly.
“I’m not a weight trainer,” I tell her, laughing.
“No. I work out because my job requires me to stay in shape, but I eat whatever the hell I want.”
“Okay, good.” She smiles.