Categories > Original > Romance > Substitute1 Reviews
The last night Jocelin is in town.
My last week in Calgary seemed to last forever, the snow had just all melted after a much needed chinook came our way. I decided to get off the c-train a few stops early and walk the rest of the way home, luckily it was the nice part of downtown. I loved the city at dusk, it really was beautiful, people were on their way from home so the streets grew busy.
I allowed all the bustling to sink in it almost all sounded like music to me, I turned the last corner onto a replica of a cobblestone street. I loved the small spot I came across whilst in search for a permanent place to live, just on the edge of down town before the river. It was a small street of lofts--the exterior looked like a small townhouse in europe. I was really thrilled about my trip to Paris--but the fun would be zapped because of the meetings and of course Carl.
I made my way up the stone steps to my doorway and fiddled with my keys--I set down my portfolio beside me. Somedays work gave me quite the amount of things to carry and the amount of the people on the c-train would not be forgiving. I stumbled into my place and flipped on the light switch.
Tonight being the last day before my venture I had decided to have a nice quiet dinner at home, I would stop by the store a block over and buy some wine along with a few other goodies, maybe even rent a movie. I kicked off my heels, my feet seemed to become immune to the pain.
I glided up my staircase to the main level and decided to take a quick peak at what movies would be on pay per view. I settled into my cushy brown couch and put my feet up on my coffee table. I let out a sigh as I flipped through the channels. Suddenly my sweet little reverie was interrupted by my cellphone ring tone which now was changed to a classic Nat King Cole song I loved: The Very Thought of You. I glanced at it enjoying the tune then realized I should pick it up before the person hung up.
"Hello?" I said half heartedly as I flipped through some more channels, there was nothing on but the random stupid comedy, and the cheesy romance.
"Hey Joce, it's Lauren." she sounded happy, I hoped she wasn't calling to give me a lecture before I went on my trip. "I was wondering if you wanted to go out tonight?"
I was surprised at her suggestion, "Tonight?" I was unsure--a night alone almost sounded nice. "What did you want to do exactly?"
"Well I thought seeing its your last night town that you Nathan and I could go for a nice dinner and then for drinks?" she sounded almost excited, I didn't reply right away letting it mull over my head, "Oh come on Joce--we haven't even celebrated your promotion yet, it'll be on us!"
"Okay," I said trying to sound wishy-washy, when really I was thrilled to have a free dinner. "Can we please get Italian?" It had always been my absolute favourite and I was craving some starch.
"Way ahead of you, Nathan picked out this nice little place." Lauren noted the location which was in almost walking distance of my loft and I wondered how I had never even heard of it. Nathan was always keen on noticing these things, I would miss him and Lauren when I go on my trip--even though it wouldn't be fore long. "And you might be also curious of this little tidbit..." I dropped the remote onto the cushion beside me.
"Hm?" I said not really caring what gossip she had for me this time. I was not really one to follow the whole office scandals.
"Actually I'm going to conference him in, maybe he'll expand." a look of confusion appeared on my face, as I heard a click, Lauren was obviously dialing the other number. I was now curious at what she had to be referring to.
"Hello?" a familiar male voice on the other end sounded. It was Nathan, I narrowed my eyes--what was she getting at.
"Hey Nathan, its Lauren and of course Jocelin's here too--say hi." I groaned at her childish antics.
"Hi," I grumbled I now shut off the tv and gave all my attention to the conversation.
"Joce has agreed to go for dinner," Lauren said happily, Nathan allowed a small oh escape his lips as she continued, "I was actually about to tell her about your new lady friend!" she giggled, it sounded like Nathan was fumbling with the phone.
"Lauren, would you stop it." he said plainly, I only sat and listened not opening my mouth once.
"Stop what?" she quipped innocently, "She is coming to dinner isn't she?" My eyes perked up--Nathan had a date?
"Well yes--but she's just a friend..." Nathan trailed off. I was utterly surprised that Nathan hadn't told me before. Usually I would be the first to know.
"Oh? Who is she?" I tried to act interested, when really I could care less--it only made me feel even more cruddy about not having dated someone in almost a year now. I could hear Nathan cough, I didn't think he'd answer me.
"She's from the print studio across the street!" Lauren exclaimed she had great joy in all of this, I was only happy that she had stopped trying to set Nathan and I up. She always had ideas about how we belonged together. But really Nathan was more of a brother to me than anything else.
"I met her the morning I came to pick you up at the coffee shop." Nathan merely mumbled. I wondered why he was so ashamed to admit he actually was interested in someone. He hadn't dated even longer than I had.
"Well I'll look forward to meeting her tonight!" I said trying to be supportive. We agreed on a meeting place--I decided to walk, I had an hour to get ready.
"Wear something decent Joce, I'm bringing a guy friend of mine Mark." I rolled my eyes, did everyone have a date except me, tonight would be interesting to say the least.
- - - -
I settled to wear a black dress I owned it was fairly conservative with thick straps and not a very low back, it glided down to my knees. I wore a red camisole over top because it grew a bit chilly as I walked down the sidewalk to the small restaurant. I could hear heart-filled laughter and classical music being played in the distance.
As I turned the corner a warm light emitted from the small but beautiful restaurant. I saw Lauren and Nathan standing in the lobby talking, Lauren was wearing one of her odd but nice purple dresses, and a black shawl. Nathan basically towering over her was wearing a nice deep maroon dress shirt, his hands were in his pockets. I smiled, I was happy my friends had even cared I was leaving.
"Jocelin, you found the place!" Lauren said happily embracing me in a hug she whispered to me, "Mark's the one beside Nathan." she winked at me as she let go at me I smiled as she pulled me towards their meeting.
"Great you could make it Joce," Nathan said with a meek smile, he looked uneasy. He was probably nervous for his so called date. The man beside him was a little bit shorter than Nathan and had mid length black hair some of which that hung in his face, he was more lean than Nathan as well. His smile was almost infectious, small dimples appeared on his cheeks.
"Nice to meet you," he said offering me a hand which I shook happily, "And congratulations!" I shot a look at Lauren who shrugged her shoulders.
"Thank you," I said smiling, "Mark is it?" He nodded, my thoughts were interrupted by a small brunette woman behind me.
"Nathan? Sorry to interrupt!" the woman wore a very fashionable red dress that eventuated her perfect figure in all the right places. Her makeup and hair had been done almost flawlessly against her almond colour skin. I already didn't like her, there had to be some flaw.
"It's alright April," Nathan said smiling and he offered her his arm, "This is April," he said to us, she merely smiled as we went around again introducing each-other and shaking hands.
"Shall we?" Lauren suggested after a moment of silence began, we made our way into the restaurant itself where a waitress led us to a nice large round booth. The restaurant was spectacular at the least, it had the feel of a villa in Italy.
"How'd you find this place?" I said to Nathan, we both trailed behind the group. I looked up to him, he almost seemed embarrassed to admit.
"Ah, I just found it one day and thought we might try it out..." He stammered a little, his answer almost sounded made up--but I let it go, tonight would be great. "You look really nice." He said as he allowed me to sit in the booth. I was sat in-between Mark and Lauren. I thought that they were supposed to be on a date.
Much to my surprise I wasn't allowed to order Nathan had done the liberty of ordering a nice rounded meal for everyone to share. That was another one of Nathan's great talents, he was an expert at ordering food that was the most delicious. It was actually how I fell in love with italian food.
The waitress interrupted our small talk with some wine Nathan had selected from Italy itself, he talked of how it had a great reputation. Mark agreed, and also voiced his love of red wine. He took the bottle gleefully and poured everyone a glass rather swiftly. I looked over to Lauren who mouthed 'Isn't he fabulous!?' I merely laughed under my breath.
"A toast to Jocelin!" Lauren said raising her glass, the others followed I blushed at the attention.
"May this promotion take you to wonderful places." Nathan added with a small smile we all clanked glasses. I took a sip and a large 'mm' burst through my lips.
"Nathan this wine is amazing!" I normally was not quite fond of wine except for on occasion. He merely smiled, Mark turned to me.
"This was a fine choice..." He lifted the glass up to his nose and swirled it taking in the scent, "You can just tell by the smell," he held it up to my nose so I could smell. I nodded my head. "You should come out with me to europe one day, my grandparents own a winery." I declined respectfully going on about how I would never get time off work, he continued to tell me I should think about it.
I received a nudge from Lauren, "I brought him for you," she whispered, I looked at her with a glare, "I thought seeing Nathan was hooking up you should have at least someone to make him jealous..." she looked over to him who seemed to be half listening to April talk about work. "It seems to be working."
I huffed at the thought of trying to make him jealous. Nathan could care less about my love life--unless of course he could see they were a total jerk. As I had always thought he was like a brother. On the other hand I couldn't help but be a little jealous of April--she seemed so flawless. Its not that I wanted to be with Nathan, but I always felt like he deserved someone like her, and I know I'd never be like that. Lauren was always surprised at my rejection of him as a love interest because he was top notch.
"So Jocelin, you must be thrilled to be going to Paris tomorrow." April chirped sipping her wine daintily. She smiled brightly at me, it almost made me feel sick.
"Yes," I said fidgeting in my seat, I began to be become quite uncomfortable. "Although I'm sure my boss will have a hand in dampening the mystical moments of it." Everyone let out a small laugh, "But excuse me I have to use the ladies room..." I made my way out of there as soon as possible. My chest felt congested as I forced the ladies room door open.
Truth was I wasn't really exactly thrilled about all of this. I placed my hands on either side of the sink and looked at myself in the mirror. I felt so fake, this didn't feel like me. I'm not a woman who enjoys wine and loves t have my job run my life. I wasn't even a person who dressed this way, or liked working until late hours in the night.
The truth was, I was someone who didn't like to settle down, that wanted to travel and be spontaneous. I didn't want my life to be laid before me. My parents had thrown me into this loop. They had pressed me to go to a college that would get me a fitting degree in where I would get good money for my art.
I hated the relationship between those two aspects of my life. I splashed some water on my face, allowing my makeup to fall down my face. I never used to wear makeup, but my job demanded a certain appearance. I hated the woman I had become, it felt unnatural. This trip was going to be a nice experience, but it was the resounding end of my social life. I would no longer be able to take long walks, but have to be in the office always, and when I do travel it will be to meetings with none other than Carl.
I wiped away the water and the makeup that stained my face to show a blank canvas. I gazed at myself, this is the girl I used to be, humble with who she was. Not someone who sold her personal being for a job. I wished that this trip would give me a way to escape my life, if I had my way I'd run off and travel europe. I would write the novel I've always wanted to, the idea ran in my head vividly.
My thoughts were cut off by Lauren who knocked on the door. "You okay in there?" she said, I opened the door and faced her.
"Fine, something just didn't agree with my stomach." I smiled meekly at her, she didn't seem convinced but she wasn't going to cause an issue. Knowing I was a little stressed she sat between Mark and I so I would get the end seat.
I covered up my discomfort for the rest of the night and decided to enjoy my last night of freedom and laughs. Mark had seemed rather interested in me, but he wasn't really my type, and with my new promotion I would definitely not have time. Writing him off romantically I tried my best to be nice but not misleading to him.
We enjoyed a large meal that filled me up in no time, in which I thanked everyone for making it such a nice night. By the end Nathan even seemed to be warming up to April more, they really did meld well. I still couldn't pin point what I found wrong with her. I just didn't trust her.
Everyone departed their ways and I was left with Nathan and Lauren who walked me home. Lauren gave me a quick hug and a small kiss on my cheek and wished me luck and told me to call her the first night I was there and tell her about everything. She hopped in a cab and left me with Nathan, he had parked a block away.
"You really liked the restaurant?" he laughed, as I nodded several times, I hit his arm lightly.
"Of course I did, you knew I would I'm sure, you only introduced me to my love of Italian food!" a broad smile appeared on his lips as we walked up my steps.
"Well I am an expert at ordering food." he said smartly as he stuck his hands in his pockets, he rocked on his heels, "Are you doing okay? You seemed uneasy tonight." I looked at him with an odd expression upon my face.
"Oh no don't be silly," I said fiddling with my keys, "My stomach was bothering me thats all." I stuck my key in the door and turned it, "Thanks for walking me home." I said with a smile.
"No problem, do you leave early tomorrow?" he questioned as I opened my door, he looked at me as I stood on the foyer, my eyes were now at his height.
"Yeah, but I really won't be able to sleep anyway." I looked at him with curiosity, "Do you want to come in for tea, and maybe a corny movie?" I suggested. It was a friday night and we both didn't have work tomorrow.
"Sure," he said happily stepping inside onto the foyer towering over me once again. I was glad he stayed, I didn't really want to be alone tonight. "If you want, I'll stay over and I can drive you to the airport." I thanked him and kicked off my heels again. I loved our friendship I didn't feel like I had put on an act.
He sat on the couch, as I made my way to my open kitchen I set some of the tea bags on the island and retrieved my cute teapot that I loved to pieces.
"What do you feel like Nathan?" I questioned raising an eyebrow, "Something minty, lemony, or earl grey?" he loosened up his tie, I don't even know why I bothered asking he always had earl grey. He gave me a knowing look. "Right." I said throwing some water in a kettle on the stove.
I picked up the tv remote and passed it to him, "Can you find a movie on paper view?" I said as I made my way down the hallway to my bedroom.
"What are you in the mood for?" he called after me.
"Anything but a scary movie!" I returned as I closed my door. I never could sit through one of those without a pillow to burry my head in. I threw off my dress and snatched my white tank top and favourite sweats, my worn slippers were placed on my feet and I tied up my hair in a loose pony tail. I returned to the living room to hear a movie producer's famous song.
I retrieved the water placed the tea bags in the tea pot. Grabbing two cups I made my way to the couch. "So what did you choose?" I said pouring him his favourite tea.
"It's a surprise" he said cheekily nodding a thank-you to me as he took his cup. I looked at him slightly confused and allowed the movie to start up. I was floored when I saw the opening credits.
"The Adventures of Robin Hood?!" I said excitedly nearly spilling my tea, he only laughed at me. Nathan and I always loved cheesy old movies, and this always made us laugh since highschool, I hadn't seen it years.
"I thought you might like it." He said talking a gulp of tea. I smiled at him and nestled into the corner of my couch. I would casually glance over at him he didn't seem to be paying attention to the movie much. Although we had seen it probably a hundred times.
"So April seems really great," I said trying to figure out what was irking him. I hated lying to him about her but maybe it'd give me an idea of what's on his mind. "You are dating her right?" I said as he looked my way.
"I suppose," he said quietly, he almost seemed like he didn't want to, I wondered why he would lead her on other wise.
"You suppose?" I blurted out, taking a gulp of my tea then setting it down. "Lauren seemed to think a lot differently, you must have said something to make her believe so." I looked at him not amused, Nathan would not get this past me.
"Lauren always takes things farther than she should." he said simply. He returned his attention to the television. I would not let him ignore this.
"So you don't like her?" I wondered how he could think otherwise, "She's intelligent and really pretty, she has a lot going for her." I said with almost a bitter tone my jealously sparked again. "How could you not?"
"Well if you seem so taken with her maybe I will date her." he said almost grouchy. I had never really involved myself in his love life as of yet. Then it hit me that he hadn't asked her out yet.
"Oh well--" I said fumbling over my words, "I didn't mean you have to or anything, I just thought you did and you were leading her on." I scoffed, "Besides, I think there's something off about her." He cocked and eyebrow at me.
"Oh?" he was now curious as to what my insight was on April. "And what's wrong with her?" I nearly gulped I didn't want to have to say this.
"Well--" I said unsteadily, his eyes were fixed on me, I got up to break the look and snatched his cup and mine. "She seems so perfect..." I continued moving closer to the sink. I did not hear him stand up behind and me and follow me. I refused to turn around and face him. "You know, like one of those fake people that try to hide their flaws..." I placed the cups in the sink and ran some water. "You never know what that could be, she could be really clingy, or actually a real bitch." I scrubbed away at the cups.
"Since when were you interested in my well being with women?" he said dangerously close it spooked me and I turned around to have him inches away from me. My eyes shifted I was confused by his actions I had never seen him like this before.
"Well I don't want you to get hurt." I stammered, I made my stance strong trying not show I was scared by his recent act of boldness. "I am your best friend aren't--" I was cut off by his lips against mine, my eyes stayed open in pure sup-rise, I then let myself go for a second and closed my eyes and kissed him back. My mind then set off an alarm and shoved him away and wiped my lips. He gave me a sad look.
"What are you doing!?" I yelled, looking at him with hurt eyes, I couldn't understand why he was doing this. He stepped closer to me trying to gaze into my eyes further but I looked away from him.
"I--" he pulled some of the hair that fell into my face, he almost whispered, "You're different that April..." I turned to him with a look of annoyance, did he think I was someone he could just turn to when he needed that type of attention. "You're Jocelin." He said with a smile, I moved away from him his smile turned to a sad look once again.
"I don't even understand you!" I barked throwing other things into the sink, he stepped back and watched me intently, "You go out of your way to get this nice dinner together to wish me off, and then you invite this April girl." I almost spat her name as I paced back in forth. "And then you come in here and try to be totally charming and invade on my life!" He merely laughed at me at which I glared at him.
"I'm charming?" he said happily, I smacked his arm and continued to run some water and scrubbed away.
"Nathan I am leaving tomorrow and then I have to come back to a lot of work, and I do not have time for this, I don't have time for you..." I said coming up with excuses. I was infuriated, I could feel the heat in my cheeks I felt him come up behind me again.
"Why are you so angry with me?" He said into my ear, I wanted to turn around and slap him. "We can make it work..." he said pulling some of the hair from my neck and placing a soft kiss there I turned around sharply and moved away.
"You're not thinking straight!" I said to him angrily, he must have been drinking, I could smell the wine on his breath. "And I am not going to have our lives and our jobs screwed up just because you drank too much!" I threw the dish towel the ground he looked at me with anger now.
"What are you so afraid of!" he said frustrated he paced towards me, "I have been by your side for almost 10 years now." he searched my eyes for a sign of sympathy, "I've never wanted anything more than this." I couldn't believe what he was saying, why the hell did he have to leave it this long and do it at the worst point my life.
"If you said this before we started working together it may have been a different story." I said bitterly. "We would never work."
"Before we started working together?" he scoffed, "That's rich--I've seen you date jerk after jerk, and I always wondered why you could never see me that way." he looked at me now distressed.
"Why did you have to do it now!" I almost whined, "It's the worst time ever!" I felt like a child who wanted everything to be perfect.
"Oh I'm sorry I didn't ask to get it fit into your schedule," he spat, "But things like this only come around once, and they don't wait for the most opportune time." he searched my eyes again. "I love you." he said plainly.
"I think you should leave..." I said quietly looking down at the ground. I looked up as he brushed by me silently, he tightened his tie and made his way down the stairs, slipping on his shoes he went for the door he turned around.
"Have a nice trip." he said quietly before walking outside and closing the door before him.
As I heard his footsteps disappear I let my body slam against the island as I slid down in a fury of tears. I sat on the floor crying my eyes out until the sun rose.