Chapter 14: This Is Acting
This entire thing felt like some kind of lifetime movie. One piece of unnecessary drama after another but recently I had realized that this was what life was like now, there would always be something and I would be the selfless girlfriend who would sacrifice my feelings and insecurities because Matt had already sacrificed more than enough to be with me. Of course knowing that he was dressing up to meet with his wife whom he was in the middle of divorcing wasn’t the highlight of my day but I hid it as best as I could and I plastered know my best smile while telling him how handsome he looked. This was all going to be good though, Matt was going to be able to spend time with Thomas and maybe he could come to some kind of resolve with Alexandra - it was doubtful, but you never know what could happen. I know I never expected this.
So while Matt stood in front of the mirror in our bedroom, buttoning up his light blue dress shirt, I watched him from my sitting position on the bed and wondered how hard it would be for him to act like Alexandra’s happy husband. Or if it would even be hard at all.
“Allison, you sitting there and looking like a sad little puppy makes it hard for me to believe that you’re okay with this...” Matt said as he worked at his top button.
A sad puppy? I furrowed my eyebrows before sighing, “I’m fine with it... But, if you didn’t look so good it would make things a lot easier.”
I heard him chuckle as he turned around to face me, his arms dropping to his sides, “You can pick out my clothes if that would make you feel better? Make it hideous and repulsive.”
“You would look good wearing the Kanye line, it’s impossible to make you unattractive.”
As Matt stepped forward towards me, he sat next to me on the bed and rested his hand on my thigh, “You give me too much credit.”
I narrowed my eyes, the smell of Matt’s cologne reaching my nose and causing it to wrinkle, “You’re even using your good cologne.”
“Babe... It’s the only cologne I use,” Matt explained defensively.
I huffed, folding my arms over my chest, “Of course. You’re perfect. You look good, you smell good, you’re charming... Is there anything you’re not good at?”
“Well, I suck at relationships.” Matt said with a slightly sarcastic laugh.
I knew he was attempting to make it a joke but it had clearly been on his mind for him to bring it up so quickly.
“You don’t suck at relationships,” I disagreeed with him, “You’ve just had bad luck with them.”
It wasn’t Matt’s fault that he fell in love with Alexandra and she was in the relationship for the money and his family name. With me he was romantic and loving, of course this moment wasn’t on top of the romance list but his heart was in the right place. He was thinking about his grandmother and her health.
“You’re really good with your words,” He chuckled before standing up from the bed and pulling me up with him, “You know that what I want more than anything is for you to meet my grandmother... She’s amazing and I think our love her just as much as I do.”
Loving any of Matt’s family, other than little Thomas seemed like a highly unlikely case, but he seemed to adore his grandmother. But me meeting her didn’t seem like something that would ever happen.
“So... Alexandra was okay with playing pretend with you?” I asked, not commenting on what he had said.
Matt let out a slight huff, “Okay with it? She jumped at the opportunity. I’m pretty sure out wedding photos are hung on the wall again.”
Wedding photos, family dinners... They really were becoming a family again. Matt had said that he would have left Alexandra anyway, whether he met me or not, but was that really the truth? Maybe they would have eventually worked things out for the sake of Thomas. Being a family for that little boy would have been top priority and maybe Matt would realize that now. If Matt decided that he wanted to put being a family for Thomas first, I wouldn’t stop him. I wouldn’t blame him at all.
A groan pulled me from my thoughts and I looked at Matt who was looking at his phone, “I need to go... I see you later today, alright? If you need anything, just call me.”
I nodded my head slowly, giving him the best smile I could force at the time, “Of course... Enjoy your time with Thomas, okay?”
Matt’s eyes stayed on mine, his thumb brushing against my jawline slowly before he leaned down and kissed me, his lips moving gently against mine. “I love you,” He mumbled softly before continuing to kiss me, directing his tongue to push it’s way past my lips and enter into my mouth to show some sign of dominance.
I didn’t object, though. Matt was the dominate one in our relationship. Of course I would always attempt to spice things up and take the reigns but when it came down to it, my attempt at being the dominate one was just amusing to Matt because he would smirk the entire time at how undemanding I am.
I’m a natural submissive - and no, this is not in a Fifty Shades kind of way. There is no abuse or filthy kink. Dirty sex? Obviously. I mean, doesn’t every couple.
While I was all caught up and flustered in my thoughts, Matt began to unbutton his shirt while lowering me onto the bed slowly. I pulled back from his lips with a breathless giggle, “I thought you had to go?”
A smirk worked it’s way on Matt’s face and he traced his index finger down my sides slowly, “I have time... I always have time for you.”
“Or you’re just really horny,” I teased.
Matt chuckled, “That too.”
Before I could respond his lips fell back on mine while I fell onto the bed with ease.
I waited by the front door of Alexandra’s house after knocking, I would much rather be spending the day in bed with Allison or having her with me to see my grandmother instead but it seems that life doesn’t like me all that much. Alexandra jumped at the opportunity to play this game of make believe with me, she was still stuck in the fantasy world of us ending up together dealing with her own denial.
She had taken this opportunity as fast as she could and seen it as this amazing way to win me back or somehow believe that this was fate.
Fuck fate and fuck this nonsense.
I constantly had someone around me messing with me life and I was sick of it. All I wanted was to be happy with Allison and to be able to see my son. Apparently that was too much to ask. The more I waited by the door for my wife to greet me the more frustrated I became, it was like the more I tried to divorce the woman the more she clung onto me.
Hearing the doorknob turning, I moved my attention to the entry and noticed Alexandra standing there in a knee length navy blue dress that pressed against her body too much for my liking.
This is acting. This wasn’t real. She wasn’t supposed to try and impress me with tight, provocative dresses.
“Matthew,” She said with a satisfied smile. All too satisfying in my opinion, it was as though she won a battle by having me here playing the loving husband while Allison was home alone.
“Alexandra,” I responded dryly as I walked past her, “My family will be here soon so we should go over the rules and regulations of this agreement.”
Her giggles echoed through the foyer and I turned to her as she was closing the door, “Rules and regulations? I didn’t know I was signing up for some kind online contest.”
“I’m not playing around, Alexandra. Listen...” I walked towards her and stopped when I stood in front of her, “I’m doing this for my grandmother, okay? No games. Don’t make any hints or anything that would make her think that we’re not really together. I want her to think that I have a stable marriage so she won’t stress out and worry about me.”
“Well, you did have a stable marriage. You had a wife who loved you more than herself, a sweet little boy who adores you more than anything but you gave it all up for one girl...” She tilted her head slightly to the side, “Whose fault is that, again?”
“I gave you up, not Thomas!” I snapped.
Alexandra being her usual feisty self threw it right back at me, “I don’t want him to be a part of your unstable decisions!”
“Unstable...” I laughed dryly, “You’re unbelievable. Nothing about my decision was unstable. I stopped being in our relationship one hundred percent the day I over heard your conversation with your father.”
The frustration on Alexandra’s face was visible but before she could respond Thomas entered the room on his red ride-on toy, when he noticed me he lit up, “Daddy!”
It had only been a short amount of time but I felt like I had missed out on so much by not seeing him recently. I couldn’t imagine losing custody of him in court. “Hey, buddy... I’ve missed you.”
I didn’t hesitate to kneel down and wait for him to get off his ride on. He ran over to me and wrapped his little arms around my shoulders, “Me too, daddy... Mommy says gwandma’s comin’.”
“Yeah... You’re great-grandma.” I held him tightly, not wanting to let him go. I would never know when the last time I would get to hold him, it was the worst feeling in the world. With my head buried against his petite shoulder, I whispered low, “I love you, Tommy.”
“Daddy...” I felt Thomas patting my back in a desperate attempt to escape my grip, “Can you let go?”
I chuckled low as I pulled away, managing a small smile, “I’m sorry, buddy. I’ve just missed you a whole lot.”
My biggest concern during our family gathering was Thomas. I knew that he had an issue with saying things that shouldn’t be said and more than people should know. I wanted to do my best to explain to him that he couldn’t mention the separation between Alexandra and I but for a toddler, it seemed like a complicated discussion to have.
“Thomas, when we see Great-Grandma we’re going to play a game, okay?” I suggested, attempting to make my best approach with the situation. Kids love games, it was the best thing that I could come up with on such short notice.
Thomas gasped eagerly, “Okay! Hide a seek!”
“No, no... Not that game... uh,” I scratched the back of my head and cleared my throat, “We won’t talk about three things. Let’s see... Kangaroos, Chicken Nuggets, and Allison. Okay?”
Thomas gave me a strange look, “Dats a weird game.”
It was weird. And extremely short notice, but it was also the only idea I had to get Thomas to keep his mouth shut.
“I know, but whoever doesn’t talk about those things the longest wins.” I began to explain, hoping it would give something for Thomas to work towards, “And if you win I will buy you ice cream.”
“Ice cream?” He asked, seeming interested suddenly.
I nodded my head, “Any kind you want.”
“Okay... I’ll play.”
I messed up his hair and grinned at him, “Good boy...”
“Matthew,” Alexandra interrupted and I attempted to not seem so annoyed by the sound of her irritating voice, “Are there things we need to go over?”
She was right about that. There was plenty to go over and not much time to do it, “Yeah... Uhm, Thomas go put your toys away. The family will be here soon.”
With a small huff and pouting his lip, Thomas pushed his ride-on out of the foyer and towards the family room where he had come from. He wasn’t a fan of cleaning, but at least he didn’t argue about it.
I turned to Alexandra and took a deep breath, “What’s going to happen today is we’re going to sit by each other on the couch while we mingle with my family, at most I may have my arm around you. But--”
Even with my attempt to talk fast I couldn’t seem to beat time and the doorbell rang indicating my family’s arrival.
“Jesus Christ,” I muttered, giving Alexandra a serious look, “Don’t cross any boundaries. Okay?”
“You know, Matthew. Some respect would be nice... Like a thank you for agreeing to do this.”
I ignored her and proceeded towards the front door, silently mentoring myself along the way. I had to be believable to my grandmother, make her happy. As I opened the door, I smiled at the sight of my parent’s with my shorter grandmother with whitened hair standing in front of them, “Grandmother... You look wonderful.”
I wrapped my arms around her, giving her a gentle hug and in her frail old woman voice she spoke, “Oh, my little Matthew. You look so handsome, honey.”
She had to lean up while I leaned down to hug me, standing at about 5 foot. “Thank you, grandmother. How have you been feeling?”
“Wonderful, sweetheart. I hope your father hasn’t been working you too hard...” She joked as she walked into the house.
I glanced at my father who gave me a scolding look. Funny, being a grown man of twenty-seven and I was still bossed around by my parents.
“Of course not, grandmother... Just working hard to become CEO,” I hinted towards my father to remind him how badly he fucked up.
Her face lit up as she turned to my father, “This boy has always worked so hard, Henry. You should be proud.”
“I certainly am, mother.” My father responded quietly.
I began to lead everyone towards the family room where Alexandra and Thomas were waiting, ready to begin this whole charade.
Alexandra smiled as my grandmother entered, “Lucia, it is so wonderful to see you again.”
“Alexandra, you look lovely.” My grandmother responded. Her gaze moved to Thomas who was peering up at her curiously, “Oh my, and who is this handsome fellow?”
Thomas grinned at the opportunity to introduce himself, “Thomas Henwy Weid.”
A lot of the time when Thomas spoke he pronounced his R’s with a W sound, but he was getting better. Before Alexandra had forbidden me to see him, I had been sitting down with him occasionally and trying to help him understand the difference with pronunciation.
My grandmother knelt to Thomas’ height, smiling at his enthusiasm, “You can’t be Thomas. Last time I seen him he was just a little baby.”
“No more, gwandma. I’m big.” He nodded his head quickly, pointing to himself, “Like daddy.”
“You’re handsome like your daddy too,” Grandmother said to him before picking him up and holding him tightly in her arms, “You know, Matthew. When you were Thomas’ age you looked just like he does now. And you spoke the same way too. He’s a mini version of you.”
I’ve seen photos of myself as a child and I noticed the resemblance between myself and Thomas. This little boy couldn’t make me more proud and as a father I promised myself that no matter the decisions he made in life that I would support him; he wouldn’t have to feel forced to impress me because the only thing I really need is to be a part of his life.
The sound of the doorbell came again and this time Alexandra went to get it. I led my grandmother towards the couch so she couch sit down and she began to bounce Thomas on her lap, “Matthew, sweetheart. You should bring Alexandra and Thomas to come and visit me sometime. Thomas would love Florida.”
This is where the lying begins.
With my parent’s eyes on me, I nodded my head slowly, “That sounds like a fun idea. I’ll mention it to Alexandra.”
I couldn’t imagine having to take a fake trip to Florida with Alexandra just for show. That would be drawing a line and the media would be all over that. There was enough hassle with the media after I made the statement six and a half months ago that Alexandra and I were separating. Going on vacation with my soon to be ex-wife would stir up bizarre rumors.
I was fortunate enough that my grandmother wasn’t tech-savvy so she was unaware of every that had went on in my life recently which was for the best.
“Grandma!” I heard Amelia squeal as she ran over to our grandmother and hugged her, “I’m so happy to see you.”
“Sweetie, my gosh you’re glowing!”
Amelia was big. And I don’t say that lightly - being pregnant with only around 3 months left until the baby was born, I would be surprised if she made it to full term.
“Thank you, grandma. Ian and I are so excited for little Tucker to come,” Amelia said as she moved her hand over her baby bump.
I heard my father clear his throat, “Who knows, perhaps Matthew and Alexandra will give us another grandchild sometime soon?”
My grandmother’s face lit up with joy and she clasped her hands together, “Oh yes! I’m getting old and I only have one, almost two grandchildren. Get to work you two.”
My grandmother’s comments caused everyone to laugh and Alexandra walked over to me, “I think Thomas would be a wonderful big brother.”
I forced a smile, it worked but I had to force it really hard to make it believable. I wrapped my arm around Alexandra’s shoulder and smiled down at her, “Only time will tell, sweetheart.”
It had been a long time until I actually had an evening to myself. Most people would take advantage of it, and I tried to, but my thoughts kept going back to Matt and wondering how his evening was going. I was well aware that I would always be the outcast to his family, I just never expected it to go to this extent.
I stayed alone with my thoughts, not even bothering to mention it to Amber because I knew that her opinion would be far too much to handle.
It was until nearly two hours into a Netflix binge that a knock came on the door disturbing me from the slumber that I was nearly falling into. I stood from the couch and made my way to the front door, yawning along the way.
The previous night was pretty restless for me to say the least. I kept up a good front for Matt but deep down I was wasn’t enjoying the though of him playing house with Alexandra, but I had no right to feel that way. Even though they were getting divorced I would always be put in the situation of being hidden when his grandmother was in town.
As I reached the door I opened it to see Tristan, he looked a me then over my shoulder, “Hey, little one. Where’s Matt? I figured we could get hammered.”
“He isn’t here,” I answered simply, “Dinner with his family.”
His brows furrowed in confusion as he looked back at me, not bothering to excuse himself as he walked past me to get inside, “Why the hell is he having dinner with those rats?”
With a deep sigh, I closed the door and turned to face Tristan again, “His grandmother is in town... They all got together for some family time or whatever.”
“Lucia?” He asked.
I nodded my head in response.
“Bastards.” He groaned, “The woman loves me and I wasn’t even invited.”
Welcome to the club. But instead of me petty I managed a small laugh and walked into the kitchen, “Do you want something to drink? We have water, orange juice, soda...”
I glanced over the fridge door at him and rolled my eyes slightly before grabbing a beer and passing it to him, “Only one, okay? I really don’t want to hang out with a drunk Tristan.”
Tristan chuckled as he opened his beer, his eyebrows raising in amusement, “So you don’t mind me when I’m sober?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “You’re not too bad.”
Tristan proceeded to take a swig of his beer and he glanced quietly around the kitchen, almost observing something. The guy was strange when it came to the way he observed things, he was very good at noticing things and it kept me on edge constantly.
“It’s strange that Matt would go without you, I mean, I know that his family despises you and all... but I wouldn’t expect him to agree to go unless you were invited also,” Tristan pointed out as his gaze shifted back to me.
Staying quiet, I walked around the island and kept my eyes on the bowl of fruit. I grabbed an apple and spoke softly, “I... guess it didn’t cross his mind.”
I could feel Tristan’s eyes on me, no matter where I moved his gaze stayed on me like glue, “He’s very close with his grandmother, Allison. He would want you to meet her so something doesn’t make sense here.”
“There doesn’t always have to be something going on, Tristan.” I proceeded to bite into the apple, trying to get him off of the topic in which he seemed to not budge. It seemed that he and Matt were always very open with each others lives but I know that Matt hadn’t told Tristan about what was going on this evening.
As Tristan sat down on a chair, he rested his elbows on the island and raised his eyebrows at me, “There’s doesn’t have to be but it seems like you and Matt always make your relationship so damn messy.”
My mouth formed an O shape and I scoffed slightly, “That’s offensive.”
“It’s the truth. Now stop going around it and tell me why you’re not with Matt,” He asked in a more serious tone.
It was strange how he knew things like this. How Tristan could look around and just know that something was off or out of place. Call him observant, if you will, but the guy was more than that.
“Because...” I paused momentarily, allowing my mind to come up with some kind of excuse but ultimately falling short of anything realistic. I was forced to be honest which couldn’t be too bad, Matt would end up telling Tristan eventually anyway, “He’s with Alexandra... Well, kind of. I mean... It’s complicated.”
My reply seemed to stun Tristan for the most part, his eyes shifted and his tongue slid over his lower lip but his did manage to question me again, “So he isn’t with his family?”
“No, he is with his family,” I corrected, “But he’s with his family and Alexandra... He’s just going to act like he and Alexandra are still together while his grandmother is in town, because she’s religious or whatnot.”
The look on Tristan’s face said it all, complete and utter shock. Clearly he hadn’t been expecting me to say what I had just said to him, I wouldn’t have expected it if I hadn’t known it was happening on my own.
I normally would have been content with the silence but it was driving me crazy, I’d rather him say something rather than nothing.
Then he spoke. Three small, Tristan-like words.
“What the fuck?” He asked in the most obnoxious sounding tone. He made some crazy hand gestures before proceeding further, “You two are the most bizarre couple I’ve ever encountered... You’re okay with this?”
“Tristan... It doesn’t matter if I’m okay with this,” I objected. I had to think about others and put myself last, “Matt needs to do this for his grandmother. She doesn’t need stress...”
“Wow,” He laughed dryly, seeming amused by he entire situation. “Okay, okay. I’m done commenting on yours and Matt’s relationship because you obviously have your own fucked up methods.”
I rolled my eyes and muttered under my breath, “I’m not sure why you care.”
“What did you say?” Tristan asked, having heard my comment.
I shook my head, not wanting to start yet another argument with Tristan, “Nothing, Tristan.”
“Why is so surprising that I care if you get hurt?” He asked me, taking me off guard. Considering he wasn’t able to see how that was surprising was enough to confuse me but asking me why it was surprising was a whole other story.
Raking my fingers through my slightly messy blonde hair, I sighed softly and shrugged my shoulders, “Isn’t it obvious? For a while you made it clear that you didn’t like me then when I feel like we’re becoming friends you make it clear that we’re not.” I narrowed my eyes at him, “You’re slightly bipolar. So excuse me if I don’t understand you half the time.”
Tristan had surprised me by falling silent and staring blankly at me. The infamous Tristan Fleming who always has a cocky comeback or some kind of smart ass remark had actually fallen short of words. It was a rare occasion, but a part of me preferred when he replied right away instead of leaving me on edge, not knowing where his mind was wandering.
His eyes softened and I instantly wondered what I had said to make his emotions change so suddenly. Maybe I had overstepped somehow but even as I went over what I said I couldn’t see how I said anything wrong.
Finally he spoke and the words he said stunned me. Anything I could have expected would have never prepared me for the words that I was about to hear next and after he spoke I had no idea how I was going to respond.
With his eyes focused on the marble pattern of the island counter as he spoke, “You remind me of my dead sister.”