Carla waved her hand towards the door. “Go after her.”
Without thinking, I hopped off my stool and ran outside. Sure enough, Aubrey’s Audi was exiting the parking lot. My heart was racing as she sped down the road. Since I’d walked to the bar, I couldn’t even follow her. My little lead foot Princess jetted away too fast for me to stop her.
I took out my phone and scrolled down to her number to send a text.
Chance: Who’s stalking who now?
There was no response. After a few minutes, a return text came in. My heartbeat accelerated.
Aubrey: It was a coincidence.
Chance: Don’t text while driving.
Aubrey: Why did you text me then? And don’t tell me what to do.
Chance: Pull over, Princess.
Aubrey: I wasn’t stalking you.
Chance: Don’t text me again until you’ve pulled over.
Staring down at my screen, I just stood there in the parking lot. After several minutes, the phone vibrated again.
Aubrey: Is that what you do every night? Troll bars around town for women?
Chance: Are you parked?
Chance: I’ve only been trolling around town for one woman. Said woman drives me to drink. Thus, the bar.
Aubrey: I wish you’d just go home. Stop texting me.
Chance: Stop texting? I figured you’d like the vibration.
That might have taken it too far. It was too soon to joke with her like we used to. I sent another text, giving her the honest response to her request that I go home.
Chance: My home is where you are.
Aubrey: You burned down our home in Vegas after you fucked me and left.
It fucking hurt so badly to see those words. I stared at them for almost a full minute before responding.
Chance: There was a reason I did what I did and I need to explain it to you in person. I won’t do it over text.
Aubrey: There is no excuse for what you did.
Chance: Where are you? I’m coming to you.
Aubrey: No. Please don’t.
Chance: You have to see me eventually if you ever want to get rid of me.
Aubrey: Why are you doing this?
Because I love you.
Where did that come from?
Chance: Please come back to the bar or I can walk to you where you are. I can’t drive because I’ve been drinking.
Aubrey: I can’t see you tonight. I’m not ready.
Chance: Will you ever be?
Aubrey: I don’t think so.
Chance: Who is he?
Chance: Your boyfriend.
Aubrey: You mean, you don’t already know? What kind of a stalker are you?
Chance: Tell me his name.
Aubrey: His name is Richard.
Chance: Is he living with you?
Aubrey: That’s none of your business.
Chance: I saw his jacket hanging on your closet door.
Aubrey: You’ve been staring into my bedroom?
Chance: Yes. Only when you’re not home. And I never entered your house. I wouldn’t.
Aubrey: It’s still sick.
Chance: I can’t believe you kept him, by the way.
Aubrey: I don’t abandon the things I claim to care about.
Chance: Neither do I. It’s why I’m here.
Aubrey: After two years?
Chance: I came here the first chance I got.
Even though it was true, I’m sure that confused her. She didn’t respond. So, I texted her again.
Chance: You named him Pixy. That’s proof that you don’t hate me.
Aubrey: I can’t do this anymore.
I didn’t want to upset her any further. So, I stopped the communication.
It surprised me when my phone vibrated again back inside the bar about fifteen minutes later.
Aubrey: When have you been doing the gardening?
Chance: All day while you’re at work.
Aubrey: Thank you.
If it were possible for a heart to smile, I swore mine must have done it in that moment.
Chance: You’re welcome.
Aubrey: Please don’t feed him corn anymore. He doesn’t digest it and it’s not pretty.
That was the end of our conversation that night. It was more than I could have ever hoped for.
Aubrey was still avoiding seeing me at all costs. When another week went by, I knew my approach needed to be more aggressive. With each day that passed, it bothered me more and more that she didn’t know the reason behind my leaving. And I still refused to have that conversation any other way but in person.
I understood that she was scared, but it was becoming urgently necessary to find a way to get her alone so that we could talk.
One Thursday afternoon, I got a call from my agent back in Australia about a new potential marketing opportunity. So, I did what anyone in my position would do before entering into a new business deal: I got lawyered up.
“I have an appointment at eleven with Ms. Bloom.”
The receptionist smiled and looked down at the appointment book. “Mr. Bastardo?”
“The one and only.” I was grinning from ear to ear like an idiot. The woman probably thought my excitement was for her. She was a pretty girl; I bet plenty of men lit up around her. But my enthusiasm revolved around only one woman. Even hearing her voice through the intercom made my heart speed up a bit.
“Yes, Kelly?” Aubrey said.
“Your eleven o’clock consult is here.”
“Thank you. Would you show him back in five minutes? I need to get organized.” I pictured her desk scattered with papers.
Kelly let go of a button and spoke to me. “You can have a seat. I’m actually going to give her ten minutes. She’s one of the best attorneys here at the firm, but her desk is usually a disaster.”
I sat in the reception area and thumbed through a magazine as I waited, but I couldn’t concentrate. I’d been waiting almost a week for this appointment. Yesterday I went and picked up my new suit. It was custom tailored and fit well. When I looked in the mirror, it might have been the first time in two years I didn’t hate who stared back at me.
I straightened my tie and hoped the sales lady who helped me pick it out was right. She’d said the blues of the tie brought out the color in my eyes—it would be impossible not to hold a woman captive. Oddly, her choice of words fit what I wanted to do to Aubrey…hold her captive. Quite possibly for the rest of our lives. I may have only spent eight days with this woman, but we learned what takes most people six months of dating. Coming to Temecula confirmed what I spent the last two years thinking about—I was a goner when it came to Aubrey Bloom.
Kelly walked around her desk. “Mr. Bastardo? If you’re ready, I’ll take you back now.”
I took a deep breath. “I’m very ready.”
We walked down two long halls and passed a few men in suits. This place was a goddamn smorgasbord of Biffys. Another turn and then Kelly stopped at a door. Corner office.
Nice, Princess. She was appreciated here. I felt a sense of pride.
“Hi, Aubrey. I have Mr. Bastardo for you.”
Kelly stepped aside so I could enter. My attorney was looking down. She spoke before her head came fully up. “It’s nice to—”
Aubrey froze. I could have sworn there was a flicker of excitement in her eyes for a second. But it was quickly extinguished…replaced by anger. I’d expected her reaction.