It was around ten in the morning when I woke up and realised Eli was missing from the bed. I figured he was in the bathroom throwing up since he came home so drunk. Then the scent of Dad’s imported Selvadoradian coffee filled my nostrils and I realised he was downstairs in the kitchen. After such a night I wanted to throw the covers over my head and go back to sleep, but I was even more curious to find out what he was up to.
“What are you doing?”
He turned to look at me, a soft smile spread across his face. “Making breakfast for my girl.”
I didn’t see anything on the counters or anything on the stove but then he opened the microwave and revealed a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries and chopped apples. It actually smelled amazing with all the spices that I loved like cinnamon and ginger. Mary was the one who introduced me to it like that. I hated eating oatmeal as a kid, and she got me to eat it by making it that way. I can’t believe he even remembered that story.
“I know it’s your favourite breakfast.” He held the bowl in his hand, beaming proudly. “I hope you like how I made it.”
“Thanks.” I took it and graciously inhaled it before setting it down on the counter. It felt a little weird watching him be in such a good mood this morning considering everything that happened that night.
“You’re welcome.” He then handed me a cup of coffee, “Almond milk and a squirt of agave nectar?”
“You’re trying really hard to get on my good side.”
“Well I feel really bad about last night. I know I have a lot of making up to do.”
“You don’t have to make anything up to me, Eli. Just be honest, that’s all I want.”
He nodded and then took a sip from his mug. “I will, I promise.” I waited for him to say something. To defend himself, to give me a proper explanation for why he did what he did, to say where he went and what he did that was so bad, but all he did was drink his coffee while barely making eye contact.
Obviously he was not planning on broaching the topic, so I was gonna have to be the one to bring it up. “So, about last night…”
“I’m really, truly sorry for what I did and for what I said.”
“I know you are, but, I’m talking about the things you said when you came back.”
“What do you mean?”
“You were really shaken up and you said some things…you said you were afraid I would hate you. What did you mean by that?”
“I said that?”
“So…that’s it? You’re not gonna elaborate? You’re not gonna answer my question?”
“What question is that?” He asked with a shrug, which only irritated me more.
“What did you do last night?”
“Nothing happened last night, I promise.”
“But you said…”
“I don’t really remember much of anything after walking through that door. I was wasted. I probably said a lot of shit that didn’t make sense. I wouldn’t put too much weight on some nonsense I said while I was drunk.”
“It didn’t sound like nonsense to me…”
“Look, I know I seem normal right now but I’m really hungover. I have a pounding headache and I feel a little nauseous, but…my point is, last night I lost control because I felt horrible about what I did to you.”
“So you ended up doing something you regret…?”
He rolled eyes and groaned. “No!”
“Eli, you can be honest with me. I swear to you, whatever it is we’ll deal with it. Just…just talk to me. Tell me what’s going on, please…” I sounded like I was begging, and I hated that. I shouldn’t have to beg him to open up to me. I shouldn’t have to beg him for honesty either.
“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know why I said that, okay?” He took a deep breath and then fixed his eyes on mine. “Just don’t think too much about it. I was drunk. That’s all.”
“Are you sure?”
“Alright.” He was a much better liar now than he used to be, I’ll give him that. I knew I wasn’t gonna get anything out of him now. If I kept pushing and prodding it will only make him shut down and I’d never find out the truth. “So where did you go?”
“The Rattlesnake. They took my keys because I had too much to drink. Had to take a cab home. Speaking of which, I gotta go back for it soon.” He glanced at the clock on the wall before setting his mug down on the counter.
“I’ll drive you.” I offered.
“It’s fine babe.”
“Really, I don’t mind -”
“- I’m good.” He cut me off with a slight edge to his tone, but swiftly caught himself and smiled at me. “I have some errands to run downtown anyway.”
He was trying so hard to act normal but I saw through it. Why would he insist on going by himself if he wasn’t trying to hide something?
Fine, if he wanted to play games then I would play along. “Well, I don’t have to go to the office so I was gonna stay in and workout, maybe do some chores around the house too. It’s been a while since I’ve done laundry.”
“Oh? I’m sorry I can’t stay in with you.”
He reached for my hands and I was a little hesitant to let him touch me knowing he was lying straight to my face. “It’s fine. I did say you should get out more.”
“Maybe later when I get back we can go on that romantic date we were supposed to go on last night?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
His lightly kissed both sets of knuckles on my hands and then gave me the most adoring look. “I’ll be back here with you before you know it.”
Those baby blues have always been my weakness. I could run to edge of the world with him, and I almost did once. He had a way of making me feel safe and loved with just one look. That was all it took for me to trust him, to believe in him. If it were any other time I would have done just that.
But I couldn’t buy into it anymore. Eli was hiding something from me. I knew it, I felt it in my gut, and I had to find out what it was.
So, I followed him.
It was hot outside, despite being overcast. I thought I would regret leaving the house in just a hoodie and leggings thinking it would rain, but grateful that I did because of how hot and humid it was. I didn’t have the time to change into anything else when he decided to leave, and I had to convince him that I was really gonna stay at home and exercise so he wouldn’t get suspicious of my plans.
A part of me felt bad for doing this. I was so mad at him for invading my privacy with my phone, and I knew trailing him like this was more or less the same thing but…
After that phone thing, my trust in him was not the same as before and now I don’t know if I can give him the benefit of the doubt. I so badly didn’t want to be that paranoid girlfriend following her boyfriend for no damn reason. I wanted to be wrong…
But his taxi didn’t drop him off at the Rattlesnake. He wasn’t even in the same neighbourhood as the Rattlesnake bar. In fact, we were in his old neighbourhood. And then I saw him walk up to his old house.
And there was a woman there – a woman I easily recognized.
A woman I remembered him telling me he didn’t know, and yet they appeared to know each other pretty well…
What the hell was going on?