I hit Send, and instantly my hands began to shake. Several minutes went by before T.J. sent a reply.
You kissed him, or he kissed you?
You tell me.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with him.
What does that mean?
Idk. It is what it is.
Do you still want to be with me?
The question is, do you still want to be with me?
Again, I had to wait several minutes for him to respond. When my cell phone pinged, I had to force myself to look at the words on the screen. Even if I deserved it, I didn’t want him to throw me away like the trash that I was.
MY FLIGHT WAS AT SEVEN THIRTY. I LEFT THE EMPLOYEE meeting early to pack, and then tried not to let thoughts of Trenton sneak into my mind as I drove the Smurf to the airport. I glanced down at my left hand, which sat atop the steering wheel. Together, my fingers read DOLL. T.J. was not going to approve, and I hoped to God he didn’t ask why I’d chosen those words.
Parking, catching a shuttle, and getting checked in seemed to take forever. I hated being in a rush, but T.J. had booked me on the last flight out, and no matter what, I was going to get on that plane. I needed to know that I wasn’t just falling out of love with T.J. because of the distance.
I stood in the long line at security and heard my name being called from across the room. I turned to see Trenton running full speed toward me. A TSA agent took a step, but when Trenton slowed down next to me, he relaxed.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, his chest heaving. He put his hands on his hips. He was wearing red basketball shorts, a white T-shirt, and a worn, red Sig Tau ball cap. My stomach fluttered at the sight of him, more because I felt caught than flattered.
“What the hell are you doing?” I said, glancing around at all the people staring at us.
“You said I’d see you tomorrow, and now you’re getting on a f**king plane?” A woman several people ahead of me covered her young daughter’s ears. “Sorry,” Trenton said.
The line moved forward, and I moved with it. Trenton moved with me. “It was kind of last-minute.”
“You’re going to California, aren’t you?” he asked, looking wounded.
We took a few more steps. “Because I kissed you?” he asked, this time louder.
“He booked the ticket, Trent. Was I supposed to say no?”
“Yes, you say no! He hasn’t bothered to see you in over three months, and all of a sudden he’s booking you a ticket? C’mon!” he said, letting his hand fall to his thigh.
“Trent,” I said quietly, “go home. This is embarrassing.” The line moved forward again, and I took a few steps.
Trenton sidestepped until he was next to me. “Don’t get on that plane.” He said the words without emotion, but his eyes were begging me.
I laughed once, trying to somehow make light of the situation. “I’ll be back in a few days. You act like you’re never going to see me again.”
“It’ll be different when you get back. You know it will.”
“Please stop,” I begged, glancing around. The line moved again.
Trenton held out his hands. “Just . . . give it a few days.”
He took off his hat and rubbed the top of his head while he thought. The desperate expression on his face forced me to swallow back a sob. I wanted to hug him, to tell him it was okay, but how could I comfort him, when I was the reason he was hurting?
Trenton returned his hat to his head, pulling it down low over his eyes in frustration. He sighed. “Jesus Christ, Cami, please. I can’t do it. I can’t be here, thinking about you there, with him.”
The line moved forward again. I was next.
“Please?” he asked. He laughed once, nervous. “I’m in love with you.”
“Next,” the TSA agent said, motioning for me to approach his podium.
After a long pause, I cringed at the words I was about to say. “If you knew what I know . . . you wouldn’t be.”
He shook his head. “I don’t wanna know. I just want you.”
“Next!” the agent said again. He had been watching us talking, and wasn’t in a patient mood.
“I have to go. I’ll see you when I get back, okay?”
Trenton’s eyes fell to the ground, and he nodded. “Yeah.” He started to walk away but turned around. “We haven’t been just friends for a while. And you know it.” He turned his back to me, and I handed my ticket and ID to the agent.
“You okay?” the agent asked, scribbling on my ticket.
“No,” I said. My breath caught, and I looked up as my eyes filled with tears. “I’m a huge ass**le.”
The agent nodded, and motioned for me to move on. “Next,” he called to the person behind me.
I didn’t want to move, just in case it was a dream. As a child, when I visited the homes of my friends, I began to realize that other dads weren’t like mine, and that a lot of other families were happier than mine. From that moment, I dreamed about moving out on my own, if for nothing else more than to just have a little peace. But even adulthood seemed more like a source of constant disappointment than adventure, so just to be sure this moment of happiness wasn’t some dirty trick, I stayed still.
This immaculate and minimalist town house was exactly where I wanted to be: wearing nothing but a satisfied smile, tangled in white Egyptian cotton sheets, in the middle of T.J.’s king-size bed. He was lying next to me, breathing soft and deep through his nose. He would have to wake up in a few minutes to get ready for work, and I would get a great view of his tight backside as he crawled out of bed. That, of course, wasn’t the problem. The next eight hours left alone with my own thoughts would take this staycation from nirvana to nerve-wracking.
A plethora of doubts had crowded my mind during the flight, making me wonder if this time was the last time. Months of built-up nervousness continued right up to the moment I saw him in baggage claim, but then I saw his smile. The same smile that made lying there with him feel like the right kind of wrong.
Maybe I’d serve breakfast in bed to celebrate our first twelve hours together in months? Maybe not. That was me trying too hard again, and I was done being that girl. I would never be that girl again. Raegan had said it perfectly while I furiously packed the evening before:
What happened to you, Cam? Confidence used to radiate off you. Now you’re like a whipped puppy. If T.J. isn’t it, you can’t control it, anyway, so you might as well stop worrying about it.
I didn’t know what happened between me being that amazingly confident girl and now. Actually, yes, I did. T.J. walked into my life, and I’d spent the last six months trying to deserve him. Well, half of that time anyway. The other half I spent doing the opposite.
T.J. turned his head and kissed my temple. “Morning. Want me to run to the corner and get breakfast?” he said.
T.J. gently pulled his arm out from underneath me and sat up, stretching for a few moments before standing up and giving me the view I’d been fantasizing about for over three months.