One day after work a bunch of us decided to go to IHOP, the restaurant that should only be allowed to cook pancakes. Outside the restaurant, Don was telling me how Derek liked my friend Jessica. She’s a good friend of mine who also happens to be the sister of my ex. I was a little jealous but I didn't even think I liked the guy, and Jessica didn’t have any interest in him. Jessica and I paired up critiquing him, obsessing over some of his strange qualities.
Like the fact that he originally ordered a hamburger and Jessica told him that he couldn’t order a hamburger at the international house of pancakes so he changed his order. And the fact that he insisted he drive his car, a ‘95 black Camaro, even though he and Don carpooled and he had to go back to his house to get it. Derek tried too hard to impress her and we found it hilarious.
The entire night he was a little puppy dog trying to make her happy. Although, when I was waiting to pay and everyone else had gone outside, Derek came back in and waited with me. We talked a little bit about random things. Then we all went to his house, which was huge by the way. We saw his horses and his huge house. Neither Jessica nor I are impressed by material things and at that moment it seemed like he was trying to impress us with his family’s wealth.
As work went on, Derek and I had a few moments to talk and we really just flowed. We had inside jokes just from the few times we interacted. I saw nothing of the person who had been a little puppy dog and more of the person who was funny, smart, and adorable.
Still I denied liking him. Especially, with those lingering feelings for my ex. The ex, who by the way was still around, trying to decide if he liked me or not, all the while hanging out with lots of other girls.
One night the ex was especially unbearable. One of my good friends, Jennifer, invited me to her boyfriend’s house for a huge bbq. The two of us were always hosting parties; we had a murder mystery party, a pajama party and a game night earlier that summer, so of course I jumped at the chance to help her prepare food for the bbq. A bunch of her boyfriend’s friends came that I didn’t know. And I rode to the party with Jennifer’s sister Nichole and her sister’s husband.
One of her boyfriend’s friends was following me around that night trying to get my number, and I found out later that he was engaged, shady business.
Around 11pm a bunch of us were in the living room when my ex came storming in with a girl and a guy acting like they owned the place. I looked helplessly at Jennifer as he introduced himself and his friends to everyone in the room, everyone but me. Then he turned to Jennifer and said, “Wow Jennifer I didn’t know this was your party. Someone told me you were hosting it and I was like ‘Really? But there’s no lights or music that’s so lame!’” And then he laughed like the poser he is.
Who invited him? I will never know. But still. Nichole doesn’t like him either and was like ‘Let’s bounce’. Sweet freedom.
Besides that guy at the party I think I attracted about 12 other creepers that summer. Not only did I feel like I had nothing to offer in a relationship I was being pursued by these overly persistent, stalker guys. Awesome.
Back at work, everyone was talking about me and Derek. That place was like wildfire, every piece of gossip spread at lightning speed. So of course everyone knew Derek liked me and they were constantly asking me about it hoping for a bit of new info. I just kept repeating that I was not interested. After being so empty for so long I just didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone else.
Besides the IHOP night I hadn’t even interacted with Derek outside of those brief moments at work. One day after work, I was feeling particularly free and stayed in the parking lot to chat with Derek and another friend who worked as the blacksmith. Eventually, Derek asked for my number. I told him that I didn't really like to talk on the phone, but I texted all the time. He said ‘yeah no problem’.
I was unexplainably giddy all the way home. A few months later, he told me that he just wanted to talk to me, so even though he didn't really have a texting plan, he bought a texting phone just so he could get to know me better. I thought that was adorable, but was super glad he hadn’t told me that to begin with.
A few days later after a few texts back and forth, while I was still on the fence, he asked me to come over. I was in the middle of a drive somewhere in farm fields, probably thirty minutes away. I drove to waste my time, driving fast up and down the winding roads of the country; one of my favorite things to do in the summer. I took a corner as I contemplated if I should go.
He told me not to worry, Don and Tony, our other friends, would be there too. So I said sure, even though I was getting a bit of a strange vibe from him. So I pop over to his house, and it's dark by the time I get there. The four of us are talking and Derek asks me if I ever watched True Blood, I say no, and he asks if I want to watch it. I was thinking, you know, sometime we'll watch it. Nope. Next thing I know I'm being whisked into his bedroom and he's putting on True Blood, sans Don and Tony because he can only have one person inside at a time.
At this point I'm a little nervous, but I figure hey I have nothing to lose. Plus I'm this guy's boss. The hour long graphic, violent, and over sexed episode passes and he didn't even touch me. I was kind of amazed. Even though it was obvious that he wanted to know me better. He didn't pressure me or try to make a move. Although I was a little scared by being whisked inside his house so suddenly and alone, I was impressed that he didn't try anything.
Still I'm hung up on the ex and I know it. He's always sending me mixed signals. I think it was around this point he says he wants to hang out with me again and tells me how beautiful I looked in some outfit. And I fall back to all those feelings again, after I had worked so hard to push them away.
I was already going shopping that particular night with the ex’s sister. The ex found out and invited himself and his sister's bf. Or so I think. I get to their house and there's this other girl there. I'm thinking she must be one of their friends; she looked like she was fifteen. The ex wants to drive, kind of ironic, because he didn't have a car all the while we were dating and I drove him everywhere. So we all hop in his car and as the shopping trip goes on the more apparent it is that this fifteen year old is my ex's new gf.
I felt sick and trapped since he had driven. He knew how I felt, and I just couldn't believe he'd be so cruel. In the parking lot, the ex didn't want to drive home; he wanted to sit in the back and mack with his underage gf, so I offered to take the wheel desperate to get back so I could leave. I drove like a maniac, like a NASCAR racer on steroids. As soon as we pulled in the smell of burnt rubber was harsh from pressing the brakes so hard. He deserved it.
I jumped in my car and left.