Chapter 6: New Opportunities
By the time I had woken up the next morning, Matt was already missing from the bed and I could smell the aroma of breakfast being made in the kitchen downstairs. I was surprised that I hadn’t woken up to Matt’s movements when he left the bed this morning, I must have been in a deep sleep.
I slid from the blankets and quickly got changed before pulling my hair into a messy bun. I looked like a mess but it wasn’t like Matt hadn’t seen my post-sex morning look anyway, and Thomas wouldn’t know any different from bed head.
I yawned as I stepped out of the bedroom and walked down the hallway, as I began to walk down the steps the smell of bacon and eggs became stronger.
“Mm...” I hummed to myself.
I could hear Matt talking to Thomas from the direction of the kitchen, “Your dad is a professional at this stuff, Thomas. Watch this...”
I wasn’t sure what Matt had done next but it received a gasped and claps from Thomas, “Wow! That’s cool!”
“I know, huh?” Matt chuckled, “You have a pretty awesome dad. I’ve been told that I’m the awesome-est.”
“Really?” I heard Thomas asked curiously, “Who told you?”
As I walked closer to the kitchen, Matt responded with a chuckle, “Santa Clause did.”
Just as I stepped into view I could see Thomas’ eyes widen in reaction to Matt’s words, “You know Santa?”
While standing in front of the stove, Matt flipped the eggs and bacon around, nodding his head. “I do... And the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny...”
Thomas looked stunned at his recent discovery, he was at loss for words and his eyes averted to my direction before quickly looking away.
I let out a soft sigh but hid it as Matt turned around and smiled at me, “Hey, beautiful. Good morning.”
“Good morning,” I smiled back and walked over to him, “You should have woke me up. I could have made breakfast.”
Matt shook his head and gave me a quick kiss, “No way. I wanted to.”
“Allison’s food is yucky,” Thomas said from his new spot in the corner of the kitchen. He made a face as he spoke and stuck out his tongue in disgust.
He could very easily be thinking about the food I used to make as his nanny, but that was also before I took cooking classes with Matt. I’ve become so much better since then. “Actually, Thomas. You know, I’ve learned to cook pretty good. If you want I can make you some cupcakes later?”
Thomas shook his head, keeping his face expression serious and completely uninterested, “No. I only want my mommy’s food, not yours.”
“Thomas.” Matt scolded as he took the frying pan off of the damper and set it on a cool one, “Manners, okay? Be nice to Allison. I mean it.”
"No buts! I am not saying it again, Thomas. Sit at the table and wait for breakfast. Do not say another word or you’re grounded, got it?” Matt’s voice was higher now. It raised relatively quickly but he kept it at a decent tone, not going too high.
I noticed Thomas’ lip quivering as his brown eyes filled with tears that were threatening to escape. He was on the verge of crying - never in my year of knowing this little boy have I seen him without a smile on his face. But now, it seemed like all he did was frown. Seeing him cry was a whole different story, something I didn’t want to see or imagine.
Everyone seemed fine until I entered. Matt and Thomas were bonding and having some father and son time but then I came downstairs and everything had gone downhill from there. Thomas didn’t like me very much any more, that was clear and maybe if I just left this entire meltdown and Matt’s stress could be avoided.
“Oh, darn.” I said suddenly, causing Matt to look at me.
His brows furrowed, “What’s wrong?”
“I just remembered that I have this interview this morning, I need to get ready and leave right away...” I glanced at the breakfast that he made, “Save some for me? I can eat when I get back.”
Matt nodded understandingly, “Of course. Do you want me to drive you, or?”
“No, no. I got this.” I quickly kissed Matt’s cheek before rushing out of the kitchen. Matt needed time with his son without me, they needed time together before Thomas could resent me more than he already did. We both knew that the divorce would be hard for him, but having me around would only make it a more difficult adjustment. If it was hard on Thomas it would make things hard for Matt.
At this point we just had to take everything one day at a time.
“Vente iced soy latte, two splenda, please.” I said to the cashier at the Starbucks counter as she took my order.
She entered in my order, “Name?”
She gave me my price and I stepped to the pickup counter, waiting as they made my latte. I had no where to actually go when I left the house so I settled on sitting down with a nice beverage at Starbucks and enjoying their free WiFi for a little while. I could take the opportunity to look for more jobs that I’m sure would just disregard me anyway, but I had to try like I’ve been doing for the past 6 months.
A low whistle rumbled in my ear and I heard the words, “Girl, you would look so good on top of me,” before I felt a hand grab my ass.
I instantly jumped and turned around, my hand raised in the air to slap the ass-grabbing maniac but I froze and my jaw dropped when I came face to face with Tristan, “You pervert!”
He turned pale when he noticed me and he sighed, “Jesus, Allison. What are you doing here?”
“You grabbed my--”
“Shhh!” He hushed me quickly, “Shut up. I know what I did, but I didn’t know it was you. I seen a nice ass and I went for it.”
Tristan looked humiliated, taken by surprise even. He looked around the Starbucks to scope the area and I furrowed my eyebrows at him, “Is that how you pick up girls? By groping them when you first meet? No wonder you don’t have a girlfriend.”
He completed ignored my comment and muttered, “Is Matt here?”
I shook my head, “No, just me.”
“Don’t...” He sighed softly, “Don’t tell him that I touched you. This is just weird, okay? He would have the right to punch me and I’d like to keep my jaw in tact.”
I let out a dry laugh, “Trust me, the last thing I plan on doing is running home and telling Matt that your hand was on my ass.”
I heard my name be called and I turned to see the server with my latte. I thanked her and turned back to Tristan who was still looking at me, “Let’s sit.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Sit? Like... At a table. Are you stupid?” He asked me.
“You’re a rude son of a bitch, you know that, right?” I scowled and walked towards an empty table, taking a seat by the window. I took a sip of my latte and looked at Tristan as he sat across from me, “To what do I owe the displeasure?”
I raised an eyebrow at him teasingly and he just responded with an eye roll, “Coincidence.”
Stirring my straw in my cup, I watched the cubes move around before I leaned down to the table and took a sip, still looking at Tristan. He was looking at me and tapping his thumb on the table, seeming lost in thought. It seemed like a weird situation, just sitting here in silence with Matt’s best friend, after he grabbed my ass and made a comment about me being on top of him. But the look he was giving me was a look of hesitancy and consideration. What it was for, however, I had no idea.
“Do you know what I do for a living, Allison?” Tristan asked suddenly.
I pulled away from my latte and sat up straight in my chair. Was he serious? How would I know what the guy did for a living? “Uh... Other than drive people insane, I have no idea.”
He chuckled at my lame joke, which surprised me, but then shook his head a moment later. “I’m in advertising. I manage the ads for campaigns and promoting other businesses. I’ve actually done advertising for Matt’s family, is a promising business once you build your platform.”
I nodded my head as he explained his work to me, it actually seemed interesting. I just didn’t understand why he was telling me this.
“You see, Allison. I own my own advertising company, T. Fleming Ads. Therefore, I would consider myself to be a relatively powerful guy when it comes to running my business. I get to make the calls, I run everything.” He smirked at his own words, enjoying the bragging. He had a good life, he made it for himself and had every right to be proud of himself.
“That’s... great. Good for you, Tristan.” I smiled at him, “But I have to ask, why are you telling me this?”
Tristan cleared his throat, pursing his lips together as he leaned back in his seat. He ran his fingers through his blonde hair before taking a deep breath, “I wasn’t going to do this right away, but since we ran into each other, I figured I might as well...” He paused for a moment while gathering his words, “I’d like to offer you a position at my company.”
I was sure that my jaw dropped when he said that, he must have been kidding because I there was no way he would offer me a job. It really just didn’t make sense. I didn’t have any experience with advertising or anything really. Tristan had been one of the people pointing out my lack of experience when I was Thomas’ nanny - not to mention he didn’t even ask for a resume, though it wouldn’t do much good.
“You’re joking,” I replied in a monotone voice.
“I don’t joke about business, Allison.”
Though I didn’t mean to me rude, I couldn’t help but laugh. This was ridiculous. He was pranking me. He had to me pranking me. “I’m sorry, but seriously? What do you want me to do? Mop the floors? Give you massages when your shoulders get tense?”
He didn’t seem impressed by my sudden outburst of laughter, “Take it or leave it. But I’m offering you a decent position, working along side of me, assisting me with advertising projects. If I need a massage in the process, that would be great, too.”
My laughter faded and I stared at Tristan in shock. He really was serious. “Wouldn’t that be like... A business partner?”
“No, Allison. In order to be a business partner you would have to own a business.” He corrected me instantly, “So yes or no? I’m not holding the offer for long.”
“Will you train me? What am I supposed to do?” I wasn’t at all prepared for something like this, and having Tristan as my boss seemed to be a whole lot of pressure, “Is there a dress code? Where would I work? What about--”
“You won’t need training because you will be working with me. That also answers your second question. Dress nicely and professional. I will give you a business card, and enough questions.” He let all of the answers roll off his tongue before leaning forward towards me, “I answered your questions, now you answer mine. Do you accept or decline?”
I needed this. I’ve been without a job for over six months and since my last employer isn’t fond of me for dating her husband, she doesn’t recommend me at all. Tristan, which I’m surprised to say, is my only hope.
“Okay... I’ll work for you.”
I knew exactly why I had given in to Tristan so easily - desperation. I needed this and this was a chance at a new opportunity to make something of myself. This could be the beginning of Matt’s family seeing me as more than a gold digger because I would be contributing too. Working for Tristan probably wouldn’t be a cup of tea, but I would survive and I was grateful that he had given me the chance to work along side of him.
“Thank you, Tristan. I appreciate this more than you know,” I nodded my head at him.
“I don’t give compliments freely, so listen carefully; you deserve a chance to show Matt’s parent’s that you’re better than what they think of you. I know you’re better than the nasty things they say and maybe I’m crazy, but I believe your relationship with Matt is real.” He said everything so simply and without a pause, he was genuine with his words. It almost stunned me how kind he was being to me. Tristan of all people had my back over everyone else.
“I won’t let you down,” I shook my head quickly, “I’m going to show them that I’m worth it, because I’m not going anywhere. I want them to accept me and--”
“No, no, no. None of that shit,” Tristan scolded me, making a face of disapproval, “You don’t thrive for their acceptance, Allison. If they don’t like you, fuck them. Show them that they’re wrong and get on with you’re day. Stop giving them your attention that they don’t deserve, okay?”
My lips were itching to smile so I easily gave in. It wasn’t as easy as Tristan made it sound but knowing that he had that faith in me that no one else other than Matt did, it felt nice. Encouraging. I was going to take this opportunity that he was offering me and accept it with my head held high. For me, for Matt, and for our relationship.
“Matt?” My voice sounded through the house as I returned back at least three hours later. It was surprisingly quiet here, too quiet for a house that had a toddler in it. I walked further into the house, looking for any sign of Matt or Thomas but they were nowhere to be seen, Matt hadn’t texted me or anything while I had been gone so he couldn’t have been far.
I eventually reached the back sliding doors that extended onto the patio, looking down the beach to see if they had gone outside. Once again, nowhere to be seen. I slid my phone from my pocket and pulled up Matt’s contact, sending him a text:
Allison: I’m home. Not sure where you are.
I took the time to go upstairs and take a bath while waiting for Matt to text me back. He was taking advantage of this time with Thomas and I would take advantage of this time alone, it wasn’t like Matt and I spent much time apart anymore. We were usually always together except when he was working. I was just eager to tell him about the job Tristan had offered me.
The front door opened and Alexandra stood in front of me, she wore a light green sun dress and her brown hair was pinned up into a ponytail, I knew she had been expecting me.
I had no doubt in my mind when the smile stretched across her face and she greeted me with a seemingly innocent, “Hello, Matthew.”
Moving my gaze away from Alexandra and down to Thomas who was standing next to me, I patted his shoulder gently, “Go on inside, buddy. Mommy and daddy need to talk.”
“Will you say goodbye before you go?” He asked me.
I nodded my head and gave him a smile, “Of course I will.”
Thomas seemed relieved and finally walked inside of Alexandra’s house - it wasn’t my house anymore, so there was no way I would refer to it as that. It was rare that I came by and now it happened so abruptly.
When Thomas was out of sight, I pushed the documents at Alexandra, “You declined the offer again?”
“What offer?” She glanced at the papers my lawyer had given me, it had stated my offer in the divorce that she had once again declined to sign and her lawyer sent it back to mine, “Oh yes. That one.”
I flailed my arms in frustration and slammed the door as I walked inside, “What the hell do you want from me? I gave you the house. Everything inside except my god damn clothes... Did you see the amount of zeros on settlement offer? Jesus. What else is there?”
She casually rolled her eyes before responding to me, “Don’t be ridiculous, Matthew. I’m just preparing a counter offer, that’s all.”
“A counter offer,” I laughed softly. I could only imagine what counter offer she had to throw at me, I was sure she intended to drain me of every penny and she probably would. That was her plan all along in the marriage, to marry someone rich and successful just to better her own life. Good on her because now we were getting divorced and she could take all of my money for herself.
She simply nodded her head, “Yes. A counter offer. Which I’m sure you will decline, and then this process will continue for months.”
“What’s the point, Alexandra? Why make it hard when we can make it quick and easy?” I asked her, sighing heavily, “I’m trying to do what’s best for you so you can move on with your life already.”
“There’s nothing quick and easy about this, Matthew.” Alexandra shook her head and began to walk deeper into the house with me following behind her, “We’ve been married for five years and you left me for a younger woman. You left our family. It’s painful. Do you know how I spent our anniversary this year?”
I couldn’t believe she was asking me this, she couldn’t be serious. We didn’t need to discuss what we did on out anniversary anymore because we were no longer together, “Alex...”
“I watched our stupid wedding video and cried while I reminisced on the happiest day of my life that has now become the most dreaded,” She began. I noticed her eyes becoming watery and before I could stop her from saying more, she continued, “And then I made your favorite meal, set the table and sat there alone hoping that maybe you would come back on our day. That of all days, that would be the day when you would realize that you made a huge mistake and that you missed me... But you didn’t come home and I didn’t eat the meal I cooked. I just sat there alone and wondered how the hell I’m ever going to feel okay again. How am I going to pass this day every year and not die from the pain in my heart when I think about you?”
My eyes stayed on her and I couldn’t process the words I wanted to say. I wasn’t even sure what I could say that would be enough. She was in pain which was expected, but it wasn’t like I would ever purposely want her to be hurting. I wanted her to move on and find love like I did. Real love. She shouldn’t be waiting around for me, she needed someone to love her one hundred percent and unconditionally because we had started in the wrong way. I didn’t want Alexandra to cry over me, I wasn’t worth her tears.
“I’m sorry, Alexandra. I know it doesn’t help at all, but I’m sorry that I hurt you... It’s too late to do anything now, but you can find someone instead of holding onto all of this pain and built up anger.” I took the papers from her, glancing down at my previous offer in our divorce settlement, “Sign the papers, Alexandra. It’s been six months.”
My eyes never shifted for a moment but instead stayed firmly on her, trying to read whatever was on her mind. The corner of her mouth twitched upwards, “I’m not signing that copy just yet... Matthew, it isn’t too late. Call it a mid life crisis if you will, but soon enough you’ll realize that Allison has been a mistake and then it will be too late.”
“Stop... She isn’t a mistake, okay? Let’s not talk about her, it only upsets you.”
“Just listen,” She took a step forward along with a deep breath, “One more chance, Matthew. It’s been fair game up until now. I’ve been pretty reasonable but you’re underestimating me. Come home. Come home to Thomas and I, or things are about to get a whole lot worse.”
Her words stunned me. She came off as vicious and hard, completely different than the Alexandra I had known and married. She was claiming to have power and threatening to use it, but all of her threats were empty. Alexandra would say whatever she could to try and keep me away from Allison but it wasn’t going to happen. Not today, or not any other day.
“Are you threatening me?” I asked her, raising an eyebrow.
She simply shook her head, “No, I’m promising you that if you don’t make the right choice, you’re going to regret it.”
I moved in closer to her, closer than I’ve been in a very long time. As I leaned down to her I could see her lips forming a satisfied smile, she was delusional. She wasn’t getting what she wanted just because she thought I would jump at her little threat.
“Screw you,” I said roughly before stepping back and walking to the front door. I stayed there silent for a moment before deciding to turn around and facing Alexandra again, “You’re going to have to realize that this isn’t a phase. I hurt you, I know that and I’m sorry. But the woman that I broke your heart for isn’t a phase. Do you really think that I would make a huge decision like this just for some fling, Alexandra? That I would step out on my family and finally decide to get a divorce after being miserable for years just for a woman I had a meaningless affair with? She means something to me. You might hate to see it but what we have is real.”
Alexandra was in denial. She wouldn’t admit that Allison and I were truly in love, it happened in the worst way possible but it did happen and there was no turning back. Allison and I fell for each other so suddenly, I possibly did faster than she did. But when I fell, I fell hard and fast. I couldn’t be with Alexandra while I was in love with somebody else. That would be just as bad, if not worst, than being with her while I was sleeping with another woman.
Eventually she would come to terms with our relationship. Her threats were just that - threats. I’ll give her whatever material things that she insists on having, but that’s all she’s getting for me. Material things. I’m not part of the deal. We’re getting divorced for a reason.
It seemed like a constantly battle just to get Alexandra to sign her name on a piece of paper, I had no idea what she wanted for me but I had a feeling that I would find out soon enough.