Nothing Like the First Time(5)

By: Keren Hughes

“Where do you live?”

“You know the old school house? I live a few minutes from there. I’ll text you directions, it’s easier.”

“Okay, great. See you then.” He sounded pleased that he’d gotten me to agree.

“Bye Grey,” I said a little excitedly.

I hung up the phone and quickly sent him the directions. Then I went into my bedroom. My walk-in wardrobe had a vast array of clothes for me to choose from, so I’d have to hurry up. I quickly chose my favorite powder pink cashmere sweater and a pair of skinny jeans. I topped the look off with a pair of woollen Ugg boots. I sat at my vanity, tied my hair up and did my makeup. I don’t like to be too heavily made up, but I chose a pink eye shadow to match my sweater and applied some mascara. Once that was done, I let my hair down and used my flat irons to make it look sleek and straight.

At 12:30 on the dot, Grey rang my doorbell. It was no surprise that he was on time, he’d always been punctual. I opened the door and had to look him up and down. He wore a pair of black jeans and a charcoal sweater that hugged his muscular frame. Damn, he looked good. My heart thrashed around my rib cage as I tried to get my feelings under control.

“Hey, Carls,” he said as he leaned in to kiss my cheek. My stomach was full of butterflies and I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks, making me blush just as I used to whenever he was around.

“Good afternoon, Grey,” I replied and grabbed my purse from beside the door.

“Are we good to go?” he asked with a broad smile that lit up his handsome face.

“Yep,” I replied, and made to walk toward his car parked on my drive. He was using the car that he’d driven us around in as teenagers. I got in and was suddenly thrown back to the night we argued, the last night I’d seen Grey before he left.

“But you wanted me to have a career that I enjoyed, Carls. I love you, you know I do—but this is a huge thing for me and I need to go,” he said as he looked anywhere but at me. He wouldn’t catch my eye, he knew I was crying and he couldn’t face it like a man.

“I wanted you to have a career here, Grey. Of course I want you to be happy and follow your heart, but I’m devastated that it has to be on the other side of the world,” I said as tears rolled down my face. I wiped them away with the backs of my hands and tried to pull myself together.

“I didn’t want to go so far away either, I wanted to stay here with you and be happy. But I’m doing what we said—I found a career that I love. I hate having to go abroad because I’ll be away from you—but at the same time, I want to travel and see different things, experience things I couldn’t if I was here.”

“So your career comes before me?” I asked, already knowing the answer. “At least look me in the eye and answer me, it’s the least you owe me, Grey.”

“I don’t want to have to choose, Carls,” he said as he caught my eye. “I just don’t want to miss out on the experience of a lifetime. I get to see amazing things and capture them on film while I experience the different cultures.”

“Just answer the question, Grey – you want your career more than you want me.” I started to cry again, I had wanted to get through this without crying but I was fooling myself when I thought that.

“I’m sorry, Carls,” he said as he took my hand into his. “I love you, I always will. But this is the opportunity of a lifetime, it may never happen again. I need to do this. I’m not making a conscious choice to put you second, but if you weren’t so stubborn, you’d come with me like I asked.”

“I’m not upending my life because you want to go traveling, Grey. Do what you have to, but don’t expect me to have waited around for you when you finally return,” I said as I opened the door to get out of the car.

“Carly, please…” I heard as I got out and slammed the door. He could choose his career over me, but he wasn’t man enough to say the words.

“Carls?” Grey asked, pulling me back to the here and now. “You haven’t heard a word I’ve said, have you?”

“Sorry, I was just thinking,” I replied and gave him a casual smile.

“Well, I said we’re here. You were so quiet on the journey—you didn’t even answer my questions.”

“Questions?” I asked, puzzled.

“Yeah, I asked how you’ve been and what you’ve been up to.”

How did I explain I was lost in a memory of the fight that had left us two very different people than the ones who had fallen in love? I couldn’t tell him that, it wasn’t fair, so I just babbled on about what I’d been up to. I told him about my journalism course and how I had become a freelance journalist.

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