My one-bedroom apartment had never seemed smaller or more run down than it did when I opened the door with Clay standing beside me. I had always felt there was a quaint charm to the eclectic mix of furnishings. Almost nothing was new, but I told myself that made these treasures even more special. Each had a story, a history even if it wasn’t mine.
Now, seeing my home through Clay’s eyes, I was embarrassed.
The faded couch had been donated by my father when I first moved in years ago, claiming he had planned to get a new one anyway. On the opposite wall a tiny TV perched precariously on top of a rickety stand I had purchased at a used furniture store. The coffee table which I had found at a yard sale had been refinished years ago and was beginning to show wear, at least on the parts not covered by papers and books.
Passing the windowless galley kitchen, we made our way to my cramped bedroom. What floor space wasn’t filled by the full-sized bed, bureau and nightstand was cluttered with discarded clothes waiting to be taken to the laundry room in the basement. Carefully opening the packed closet to avoid an avalanche, I shifted bags and boxes until I was able to pull out the suitcase I’d been searching for.
I felt self-conscious as Clay watched me from my unmade bed. I was suddenly unsure how much to bring. I didn’t want to assume his invitation to spend another night meant he wanted me to stay indefinitely. In the past I’d mistaken passing interest for more, fallen too quickly for the wrong men, only discovering too late they were using me. Here I was with a virtual stranger, wondering if I were making the same mistake again, yet staying here alone now seemed too depressing to bear.
Possibly sensing my uncertainty, he suggested casually, “Why don’t you bring enough to stay through the weekend. The festival will have fun events every night and it will be a nice getaway for you.” Did I imagine the patronizing tone when he said this? I couldn’t deny that my dingy apartment was nothing compared to his spectacular beach house, but it was my home.
This train of thought was interrupted when he added, “Besides, it would give me a chance to finish what I started this morning.”
The flirtatious smirk on his face brought back the eagerness I’d felt earlier. My breath caught in my chest as I remembered the feeling of his breath on my skin. Longing filled me again at the memory of his touch. My face flushed as I imagined how amazing it would be to give myself freely to this amazing man.
Suddenly in a hurry to leave, I quickly filled my bag, hoping I wasn’t forgetting anything. Dashing into the bathroom I grabbed a toothbrush and other toiletries, tossing them into a small bag before stuffing it in among the other items.
As I zipped the suitcase closed Clay stood and stepped close to me, resting his hand on top of mine on the bag’s handle. I looked up into his eyes, silently praying this time my growing feelings wouldn’t be unrequited.
Cupping my cheek with his free hand, he bent down to give me a tender kiss that made me believe this time everything was going to be okay.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Unrequited and is part of something longer I am working on.
This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after How Could I Say No When He Desperately Wanted Me to Stay?.