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Turning Back (Turning #2)
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I lived in the dark for three years. My whole world revolved around the whims and happiness of three men. It was just a trip into the forbidden. A way out of a bad situation and forward into nothingness.
Quin, with his easy smile and charming good looks. He was always there for me… Until he wasn’t.
Smith, and his dispassionate attention. He was never there for me and he never regretted it.
Bric, the one who listened, but only to himself. Self-absorbed, self-obsessed, and self-serving. He was never the one I wanted.
And now he might be the only one I have left.
It was good while it lasted, I guess. But it could’ve been so much more. It could’ve been so much better.
And that’s why I’m turning back.
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Chapter One – Quin
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was happy.
Two days out of seven were perfect.
But three hundred sixty-five days have passed and all the good times are gone.
One year. Today is the one-year anniversary of Rochelle’s exit from the game.
The buzzer near the door of my condo blares. It’s Smith. I don’t need to answer it. Showing up every Monday morning has been his way of keeping track of me all year. The buzzer is just a courtesy anyway. He has a key.
At first Smith and Chella both came over. It was nice, actually. I really enjoyed them. And they were just worried about me after I stopped talking to Bric and never went back to Turning Point.
I didn’t mean to end things with Bric. I mean… I did mean to end the game with him, but not the friendship. He’s been a part of my life for so fucking long I really never considered just cutting him out completely. It just shook out that way. One day of no Bric turned into one week, turned into one month. And if things keep going, it will turn into forever.
We pretended things were OK for a few months. He even pretended like he was looking for Rochelle. But he never fooled me. Bric is never going to find Rochelle and I’m not either. If she hates me so much that leaving like that was her only option, well… that’s that.
I quit going to Turning Point. I still have a membership—because canceling my membership would involve making a decision, and I’d just rather ignore the whole thing. And then I quit talking to Bric. Stopped taking his calls. Stopped showing up for things. Stopped everything to do with him.
Smith and Chella took it upon themselves to check in on me. Like I’m on suicide watch or an old uncle who needs to be reminded to eat.
They came over together on Monday mornings at first. They’d bring coffee and some food. Pastries or McDonald’s. Whatever. But about a month into that schedule the three of us were sitting on my couch, just talking and enjoying the fantastic view I have from the top-floor of the SkyClub Building, watching the weather and having a chat.
And then… my hand wandered to Chella’s leg. It wasn’t conscious. It wasn’t. It was just… we were all sitting pretty close together. Chella in between Smith and me. And it felt so… familiar.
It was habit, I think. Pretty sure, anyway. An unconscious gesture. I wanted a little human interaction, I guess.
Everything stopped when I did that. Smith went silent. Chella, who was in the middle of telling me some silly story I have no recollection about now, went silent.
I withdrew my hand immediately. Gave Smith a sorry shrug. We all sighed. Because it was such a natural move.
I am drawn to them.
Not Chella. Not Smith.
And I think Smith knew how easy it would’ve been for the three of us to slip into something in that moment. It would’ve been so simple to just morph back into a plural arrangement. I know he likes it. I know she likes it. And I do too. I still do. You can’t play that kind of game for more than a decade and not like it.
But Chella was the one to end all those thoughts. She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, stood up, and said, “I gotta get to work early today. Wanna do lunch tomorrow, Quin?”
And I said, “Sure. Sounds fun.”
She walked out and left Smith and me there. I knew he wasn’t going to say anything, and he didn’t. We talked about… I don’t know. I don’t remember. Stocks, maybe. The weather. Something benign.
So that’s how it started. Every Monday morning Smith still comes by with coffee and something to eat. He just comes alone now. And every Tuesday I have lunch with Chella. Alone.
It’s funny, I think. That Smith doesn’t trust me to be with Chella around him, but he does trust me to be with her alone.
It’s not her I want. It’s certainly not him. But another… us. I could go for another round of us.
I’m not dressed right now. Just wearing pajama pants, standing in front of the amazing fourteen-foot-high windows that start at the floor and go all the way up to the ceiling, letting the heat from a vent under my feet warm me from the bottom up.
I go to work most Mondays but I don’t show up until noon. It takes me that long to get over the ache. I don’t get it. They say time heals all things and I have known that to be true in a lot of ways in my thirty-five years of life. But it’s not true this time.
It’s getting worse, if you ask me.