“I thought I loved her at one time. So, yes, we told each other we loved one another. Once you start saying that word, it just becomes commonplace to use it. It gets abused and loses its value. We had a good relationship for a while, but it was never gonna work long term.”
“We’re too different. She’s so caught up in the theater world right now. There was no time for us to work on the problems we had.”
“And she wanted kids,” I added.
I swallowed. Even though I’d known how he felt about kids, a part of me had hoped being around Bea might have shown him that it wasn’t so terrible.
“You guys didn’t sound like you had any problems. Just the opposite, in fact. I had to block my ears anytime she was home.”
“The sex was good. We never had issues in that area. But it takes something deeper than that to last forever with someone. I didn’t want to waste her time. Time is precious.”
“So, it was you who broke up with her?”
“Yes. I was the one who ended it.”
I actually felt really badly for Jade. I knew what it felt like to have strong feelings for this man, and she was a good person. She didn’t deserve to be dumped.
“That was the reason for your trip to New York?”
“My feelings had been weighing on me. I didn’t want to go through the whole summer like that. Now she can be free to do whatever she pleases.”
He hesitated before saying, “The same.”
My body didn’t know how to react, whether to feel relief or nausea. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? I honestly didn’t know. Justin being single now meant that he could potentially be playing the field, bringing girls home, taking advantage of all of the wanton women gushing over him at Sandy’s. I couldn’t deal with that. In a strange way, knowing he was committed to Jade always brought about a bittersweet solace because at least there was only one woman to worry about. Now there could potentially be many.
At the same time, this could be an opportunity for me to finally have a chance to be with him. I quickly shook that thought from my head, knowing full well that it was a longshot. He didn’t want kids; he was emphatic about that. I now came with one, and there would be no chance in hell he would go for that kind of package deal. Then, it occurred to me that maybe he was intentionally keeping the breakup from me to avoid any expectations on my part. That was it!
“Why did you keep this from me, Justin?”
“I was going to tell you.”
“I don’t know.”
“My knowing doesn’t change anything between us if that’s what you think. I don’t expect anything from you, especially now.”
“What do you mean by especially now?”
“I mean…maybe if I hadn’t had Bea…” I shook my head. “Never mind.”
“Say what you were gonna say.”
“Things might be different if I didn’t have a child. Maybe we could have seen where things went.”
He looked like he was struggling with what to say next. “You’re no less attractive because you have a child. Don’t ever think that. But you are right about one thing. Any man you end up with needs to be one-hundred percent ready for that responsibility.” He pointed over to Bea who was kicking her legs around as she continued to play on the rug. “It wouldn’t be fair to her otherwise.”
He was right.
As my head hit the pillow that night, I’d never felt more confused about what tomorrow would hold.
Every evening when the door would open, I would cringe, wondering if that night would be the one where he finally brought a woman home with him. I kept preparing myself for it. Justin was a very sexual person. Jade always used to reference his insatiable appetite. That would always make me want to vomit.
He wasn’t going to be celibate forever.
It wasn’t a question of if he brought someone home; it was when. Each time he’d walk in alone would be a bigger relief than the last, though.
The days were passing, and with each one, I wondered how much longer this peaceful camaraderie between us would continue.
Bea was getting bigger every day. She was now finally rolling over. That meant being very careful when changing her diaper because she easily could fall off the table. Now that I was pumping milk, it made it a lot easier to leave the house from time to time. Justin would watch Bea for little stints while I ran errands. I referred to him as Uncle Justin around her. He seemed to be happy with that. It was a safe title and made it clear that I wasn’t expecting him to have a bigger role in her life. He would likely always be Uncle Justin to her. I vowed to learn to accept that.
The best part of my day continued to be mornings when Justin and I would sit in the kitchen with Bea and have our coffee together. The weirdo was still using my pumped milk as a cream replacement, though. At first, I thought he was continuing the habit just to be funny, but the longer it went on, the more it became clear that he truly liked the taste.
As he poured some out of a bottle into his coffee, I asked, “You think that’s completely normal?”
“I’d rather drink from you than some random cow. Think about it. You’re the one that stopped eating meat after a similar realization.”
“Okay, but despite that, you do realize the average person would find your drinking breast milk very bizarre.”
“No. Bizarre would be if I stood in line while you were feeding her and asked to go next.”
That actually made me chuckle. “True, but what’s gonna happen when you start dating someone? You think she’s going to accept you drinking another woman’s breast milk? Or even that you had in the past?”
“I’ll worry about that when I have to.”
It felt like a good opportunity to pry. “So, you’re not seeing anyone?”
He glanced at me from over his mug with amusement in his eyes. “I’m pretty sure you know the answer to that, Amelia. If I’m not here, then I’m at Sandy’s, and then I come home. When would I be seeing said person?”
“I know. I guess I’m just confused.”
He slammed the ceramic mug down on the granite. “Okay. Explain why you’re confused.”
“You’re obviously extremely attractive. You’re a musician on top of that. You have women literally throwing themselves at you. It’s been a month since you broke up with Jade. I keep expecting you to walk in here with someone. That’s all.”
“You think I’m a manwhore when I’m single…”
“I’ve only experienced you with a girlfriend, so I don’t really know.”
He placed his hands on the table and leaned into me. What he said next gave me the chills. “I love to fuck. LOVE it. More than anything.” Those words went straight to my loins. He sat back and crossed his arms. “But the more experience I have, the more I realize that you have to be careful out there. I don’t sleep around anymore like I used to.”
I decided to mess with him. “That’s interesting that you say that because I was thinking that casual sex may be my only option.”
He nearly spit out his coffee. “Oh really?”
“Yeah. You actually helped with that realization.”
“Did I, now? I’d like to hear this.”