I don’t want Chip to meet Eric.
I put on my clothes and makeup in a rush, hoping to slip out of the apartment before Chip gets home. Unfortunately he’s early. My stomach clenches as I hear him come through the door. He drops his backpack in a careless heap and strides down the hall. There’s nothing I can do to avoid him, so I continue to apply my mascara with a trembling hand.
He pauses outside the bathroom. I don’t look over because I’m concentrating on my eyelashes. Despite my lack of greeting, or perhaps because of it, he enters the tight space and puts his hands on my hips.
“Hey, babe,” he says, kissing my cheek. “Where you going?”
He grunts in disinterest. He’s only been to my brother’s house once. They didn’t hit it off.
I set aside my mascara and fix the smudge he made. Instead of wandering away to play videogames or watch sports, Chip frowns at my reflection in the mirror.
“Why are you all dressed up?”
I’m not wearing anything fancy, just a basic skirt and top. But I took pains with my hair and makeup and it shows. I want to remind Eric what he turned down, rub it in his face a little. Chip notices the extra effort. He’s got an eagle eye and a suspicious nature.
I think about lying just to avoid conflict. I’ve been doing that more and more these days. After a short pause, I push aside the urge and move his hands off my hips. “It’s a special occasion. One of April’s relatives just got out of prison.”
I know that Chip remembers her. He always takes note of pretty women. “I’m going with you.”
This is exactly what I was afraid of, but I don’t argue. I have to pick my battles with Chip. He can be hot-tempered, depending on his mood and the amount of alcohol he’s consumed. I tell myself it’s not his fault. He’s a dedicated athlete, big man on campus, born to a wealthy family. Guys like him expect their girlfriends to fall in line.
And I had. I did.
Chip follows me into the bedroom, where I choose a pair of ballet flats. He grabs a pair of metallic gold high heels instead. “Wear these.”
Saying nothing, I don the flashy shoes. He likes me to look a certain way when we’re together. I think he enjoys having a leggy blonde on his arm. Before we leave, I glance at our reflections in the mirror. He’s tall and handsome, with wavy brown hair. His jeans and polo shirt are sporty and expensive. We make an attractive couple, but there’s something missing between us.
We used to have fun together. When we first met, he was hard to resist. He followed me to my car after class one day, begging for a date. He was bold and brash and full of confidence. I felt flattered. He put a lot of effort into chasing me, and I liked the attention. I liked his persistence. Of all the girls on campus, he chose me.
Our relationship hit the skids as soon as I moved in with him. Then he stopped pursuing me and started trying to control me. It’s almost as if he considers me his property now that I live in his apartment. He seems to want a maid, a cook, and blowjobs on demand. I wouldn’t mind taking care of his needs if he returned the favor.
Maybe I’m expecting too much from him. He is what he is, an MLB-bound superstar athlete who bats .390 and fields like a dream. He’s got money to burn and family connections. I understood what I was getting into when I agreed to go out with him. There are dozens of girls who’d kill to be in my glittering sandals right now.
The problem isn’t Chip. It’s me. I haven’t told him that I’m not happy. I’ve stayed quiet instead of challenging him. We have a superficial relationship, and I’m reluctant to take it deeper. After what happened with Eric, I’m not up for another heartbreak.
I can’t bear to compare the two of them, either. That’s why I don’t want them in the same room together. There’s no contest between my live-in boyfriend and the love of my life.
After all this time, I still have feelings for Eric. I’m worried that seeing him again will bring up bad memories—or good ones. My desire for him might come rushing back. Or maybe the opposite will happen, and I’ll wonder why I ever gave him the power to hurt me.
Then I’ll be free.