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I was recently promoted to sous chef and I was very proud of myself. I was so grateful to Darren for all those hours of mentoring and all the chances he gave me to work on my own that helped get me to this point. Another chef wouldn’t be as helpful as he was to me because they might see me as a threat to their position in the kitchen but Darren’s not so insecure. He understands that having someone else capable in the kitchen is better for him and for the restaurant as a whole. I really appreciate him for that.

Professionally, I was doing well. Personally, it was a challenge to get through each day.

Seeing Michael at work didn’t help either. I considered quitting but I love working there and I know Michael especially needed the job right now so we both had to suck it up and deal with it.

I remember him telling me how he wanted to quit and get a job at a nightclub or lounge so he could work nights and have his days free to paint since he’s most inspired on mornings. He wanted to start taking his art more seriously but I guess with a baby on the way he had to adjust his priorities and he does get bigger tips here than he would if he worked at a nightclub.

Thankfully no one asks questions about us. I guess they could sense the tension and realised that we broke up though I’m hoping they don’t know the reason why. I’d hate for anyone I work with to find out about Lyra and Michael.

Speaking of the two, they’re getting along pretty well. Lyra really lucked out by having him as the father of her baby. He’s always coming over to the house now so they could chat about baby related stuff.

He’s really stepped up to the plate. He goes with her to all of her doctor’s appointments and he even started picking her up from work. He’s worried about her traveling on her own so late at night in her condition, so he meets her after her band practice is over and drops her home. It’s a good thing they’re getting along so well, isn’t it?

I mean, it’s good for the baby that his parents enjoy being around each other. It’s good that he takes her shopping for maternity clothes and baby toys. It’s good that she comes to meet him after work so they can go have a late dinner together when she has a craving for spaghetti. Even though we both work at an Italian restaurant so she can easily come there to fulfill her pasta craving. Not to mention she has a sister who’s a sous chef who could practically cook anything she wants so there really is no real reason for them to go out for dinner so damn often now is there!

I shouldn’t be so upset about this but I can’t help myself. Lyra insists it’s all strictly platonic but I know her and I know the way she thinks. Lyra doesn’t have male friends. She has male lovers. The only reason for her spending so much extra time with him is because she must like him and probably thinks that she should give dating him a shot since she’s having his baby and all.

And I have no one else to blame but myself because I basically brushed off my feelings for Michael putting up a front for the both of them like I’m not bothered at all so obviously she’s gonna think it’s fine to get romantically involved with him because I don’t care.

But I do.

As she got further along in her pregnancy I noticed him hanging around the house more. It’s funny how we dated for weeks and I hesitated to invite him over and now that we’re no longer together he’s our most regular guest.

One time I walked in on them sharing a special moment. The baby kicked for the first time and he was right there to feel it. The look on his face was priceless, it was pure joy.

I hate that she was able to give him that instead of me.

Sometimes I think of what it would be like if it was me instead of Lyra. If I was having his baby instead and he was as attentive and doted on me as he did with her…then I kick those thoughts out of my head because it’s never gonna happen.

I try to keep out of Michael’s way when he comes over for my sake more than his. He tried to talk to me a few times but I avoid him like the plague. I can’t be alone with him. I’m just too afraid of what I’ll do or what I might say. He still thinks I don’t love him and I want to keep it that way. Thank goodness he’s not as persistent as he used to be before we started dating. He respects that I want my space and he doesn’t push but it doesn’t stop him from trying every time he sees me.

I was watching a new cooking show on TV and was so engrossed in it that I didn’t hear him enter the room. He sat down next to me and smiled the same way he always did that made my heart flutter.

“Hi…I…uh…didn’t know you were still here.” I stammered uncomfortably. He came over a few hours ago to help Lyra setup the new bassinet she bought for the baby. I thought he had already left.

“Yeah, um…Lyra just fell asleep.”

“Heh…yeah pregnancy has made her a little narcoleptic. Just the other night I found her sleeping with a half-eaten cookie in her mouth. I was tempted to take a picture but she’d kill me.”

He laughed loudly. I missed that sound.

“You guys finished with the bassinet?” I asked.

“Uh yeah, it wasn’t hard to set up actually. The hard part was cleaning out the nursery but it’s all done and ready now.”

I nodded. “Um…so…I hear it’s a boy. Congratulations.” I tried to sound enthusiastic but I failed miserably.

“Thanks. It didn’t matter to me, I just wanted it to be healthy but I’m kinda excited to have a son.”

“I’m really happy for you, seriously. I know how much you’ve wanted this.”

He smiled weakly and looked at me like he wanted to say something but changed his mind. “How have you been?”

“Fine, I guess.”

“Just fine? With that promotion, I thought you’d be over the moon?”

“Oh right…yeah…I am. I’ve worked really hard so it’s nice to be recognised. Had any time to paint lately?”

He shook his head. “I don’t have the time these days with all the overtime I’ve been taking on plus…I’ve lost my inspiration.”

Next thing I knew he scooted closer to me, so close I could feel his breath on my face. He was breathing hard and looking at me like he wanted the same thing I wanted…

“I’m sure you’ll find a new one.” I swallowed deep, my throat was dry.

“You think?”

“Yeah.”

“Because I don’t want a new one. I want what I lost. I desperately want it back.”

His face moved closer. He licked his lips. I licked mine. I leaned in and so did he. And then…

He got up and started to walk away.

“Where…where are you going?” I felt the blood rush to my cheeks just as the disappointment kicked in.

“I’m leaving. Good night.” He had cocky smile on his face that I wanted to wipe off with my foot!

What the hell was that? Was he trying to play with my head, with my emotions? “What just happened there?” I asked, getting up to follow him.

“I proved a point.”

“What point?”

“That you lied to me. That you love me.”

“I…I…don’t love you Michael!” I insisted. “What you did proves nothing!”

“Really?”

“Yes, just a moment of weakness! I don’t want to be with you anymore. I’m over it!”

“Bullcrap! Stop being such a coward and own up to it!”

I am NOT a coward!” I yelled.

“Yes, you are!”

“No, I’m not!”

“Then prove it! Kiss me right now and prove that you can just kiss me and you won’t feel anything more! Do it!”

So I kissed him. It was a hot wet kiss, deliberately wild and passionate with no gentleness or emotion at all. And then I tried to pull away…but I couldn’t.

My fingers tangled up in his long hair pulling him closer and deepening the kiss. I missed him so much. I missed the way he smelled. I missed the feel of his warm lips against mine. I missed the way he moaned into my mouth a little. I missed the way his tongue knew all the right things to do to send jolts of hot warmth down my body. I wanted it to last forever.

I had no idea how long we were kissing but our need for air was what pulled us apart.

“I love you so much” He groaned, exhaling a deep breath as his eyes pierced into mine. “Tell me baby…tell me the truth.”

“I love you too Michael” I finally said. There was no use in pretending anymore. He caught me in my lie, he knew the truth. “But it changes nothing.”

He pushed me away from him glaring at me in anger before smacking a hand against his forehead in frustration. “Dammit, Maia!”

“I’m sorry but…you wouldn’t understand.”

“Then make me. Please help me understand why you keep pushing me away because I’m not gonna leave until you explain yourself! We have something real here, something worth fighting for. Don’t you see that?!”

“You are having a baby with my sister and I can’t deal with that. I can’t…I can’t share you with her.”

“Share me with her? I’m all yours! Lyra and I are friends and yes she’s the mother of my son but you are the one I love, you Maia, it’s always been you. It’s only you!”

“So there’s nothing going on with you two?”

“Hell no! Nothing at all!”

“But the baby…?”

“I’ll love my son with all of my heart but that doesn’t mean there won’t be room for you too. We can make this work Maia. I know it won’t be easy. The situation is a little…unconventional if I’m being honest, but we don’t have to deny our happiness. Trust me, please. Don’t give up on us.”

He got choked up and I could see the tears in his eyes and the desperation in his tone. I so badly wanted the same thing he did. I wanted to be with him too so I started to question myself. Was I being insecure for no reason? Did I jump the gun by ending our relationship at the first sign that things might get rough? I put so much importance on my issues with Lyra that I never considered giving us a proper chance to see if we could survive this hurdle.

He asked me to think about it so I agreed and after he left that night I remained in the kitchen and really thought about things.

Michael was right. We had something that was worth fighting for and I needed to fight for it. It would be hard but I would just have to learn to face my issues with Lyra and fight for the man I loved and for our relationship.

For the first time in a long time, I was optimistic.

And then the following night, I was shattered all over again.

I heard them come in late. She had to work that night so I knew he picked her up from work as usual. I was in bed when I heard the commotion downstairs and then I heard her bedroom door slam shut. Something told me to get up and check, so I did. I went to knock on her door but stopped when I heard the noises.

They were giggling, moaning… panting.

The door was closed but I knew exactly what was going on behind it and then I heard her moan, “Oh…Michael…yes!”

I wanted to scream my lungs out.

How could he do this to me?

He told me he loved me. He told me he was all mine. He told me nothing was going on between them…but it was all a lie!

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