Jules: I’d like that. And Daisy…
Jules: You have no idea how much your weekly emails (and cupcakes) have helped. Thank you.
Warmth spread through her, down to the tips of her toes. It was nice to be appreciated, for someone to acknowledge the little things. Glen wouldn’t notice if she walked through the house wearing nothing but do-me-now red lipstick.
Daisy: They mean a lot to me, too, Jules.
Jules: Would it be odd if I chatted you up more often? The American version of chatting, not English, that is. Glen has nothing to worry about. In fact, he’s welcome to join in again.
Jules was so thoughtful, so not Glen.
She smiled at the computer screen, and then guilt pricked at her, quick and sharp, though there was nothing inappropriate about her relationship with Jules. Heck, Glen had talked to Jules, several times. They’d given each other a hard time over sports. Something about football versus rugby.
Daisy: Let me think about it.
Jules: Of course. Good night.
Taking a deep breath, she cleared her thoughts. If she and Glen were going to work out, she had to stop comparing Jules to him. It wasn’t fair of her to do so, and if she didn’t stop, then she’d have no choice but to stop talking to Jules. As much as she hated the whole “owed it to him” saying, she did think Glen deserved a second chance. Years of friendship before it turning into more had been the total basis for trying to work things out.
She set her laptop to one side and jumped out of bed to fix herself a little snack, padding across her bedroom and into the hallway, the wooden floor creaking as she went. Along the way, she paused in the living room to check to see if Glen’s truck was in the drive.
Pushing the sheer curtains aside, she peeked through the window. The space beside her Honda was empty.
Where was Glen?
He hadn’t texted or called to let her know he’d be late. Something he’d been doing a lot lately, and had been blaming on his extra work duties. But honestly, how much of an extra workload could a high school history teacher/assistant football coach have in the off-season?
Maybe it had been a mistake to get back together with him, or to allow him to move in with her, since his lease had been up and they were planning to get engaged someday anyway…or so he had implied. Maybe she’d just been too darn lonely to say no.
But this was Glen. Her Glen. Someone she’d known since seventh grade.
Walking to the kitchen, she shook her head and muttered, “I love Glen and he loves me. There’s no reason at all to think that he broke up with me right before the holidays so he wouldn’t have to buy me a gift and then got back together once his lease had been up.”
Cici’s claws tapped on the floor as she ran up to Daisy, wagging her little stump of a tail and banishing Daisy’s less than charitable thoughts of her now on-again boyfriend.
Daisy knelt on the floor to pet her sweet puppy, if she could call a five-year-old, fifty-two pound dog of indeterminable origins a puppy, but Cici was having none of that and decided she’d rather be a lapdog, tackling her.
Laughing, Daisy fell on her butt, wet sloppy kisses covering her face. “Need a little attention, do you?” Gosh, she loved this dog. Three years ago, when she and Glen had first found Cici at the shelter, an instant connection had been made. They had taken one look at that dog’s blue and brown eyes and fallen in love.
The back door swung open. Glen walked in, a smile on his face when Cici bounded over to him.
Wasn’t there a saying about dogs being a good judge of people?
Slowly, she rose to her feet, dusting off her pajama bottoms. “I was getting worried about you. I made you an extra plate, and I can heat it up if you’re ready.”
The smile faded from Glen’s face. “It’s not want I want.”
“But you don’t know what I cooked tonight,” she said.
He held out his hands, palms up. “I mean, this isn’t what I want. You’re not what I want.”
A ball of what felt like dough that’d been left out in the open for too long hit the bottom of her stomach. “It isn’t? I’m not?” she croaked.
“Oh Lazy-Daisy—” Her eye twitched at his juvenile nickname. She’d always hated when he’d call her by it. “Not really. I’ve been thinking and I’m not in love with you anymore. Well, I love you, but more like a friend. There’s no spark, no life to our relationship, and I’m bored. Gina told me to give you another chance, so I did, but it’s not working.”
“Who’s Gina?” she asked, anger merging with furious to make one ticked off baker.
“She’s the new guidance counselor at work,” he said slowly, as if speaking to a small child. “I told you all about her.”
Crossing her arms, she pursed her lips. “No, you didn’t.”
“Like you listen to anything I say,” he scoffed. “You’re too busy baking and talking to some guy in England.”
Blood rushed to her face, heating it. How dare he turn this on her? “Excuse me? I own a bakery, and Jules is a customer.”
Glen smirked. “You talk to all of your customers that often?”
In fact, there were some she talked to every day and knew everything about, including when their next doctor appointments were and who had hemorrhoids. So sue her if she had a lot of senior citizens for customers. “Don’t make what Jules and I have into something dirty.”
Petting Cici, he motioned for the dog to go to bed. She went happily and Daisy wished she could join her.
“Yes, you did.” She swallowed and briefly closed her eyes. “Did you cheat on me, Glen?”
“Only in my heart, with Gina. We really love each other. It’s a mature love, with a woman who has less baggage than you. I can’t handle your baggage.”
Gaping at his answer, she fought back the tears of anger and frustration. Any love she felt for him was gone, and for it to have left so easily meant it hadn’t really been there in the first place. At least, not this time. “You’re my baggage, you asshat!”
He cocked his head to one side, a move that she normally thought was endearing, but now it made her want to smack him. “Don’t be mad, honey. A clean break is what’s best for both of us.”
Pressing her fingers to her temples, she tried to process their conversation. This Glen wasn’t the Glen she loved in high school, or the Glen that had been there for her when her momma had died. No, this Glen was unrecognizable. They’d grown apart while growing up.