Lauren’s world stopped spinning. The multitude continued to watch the intense drama unfold at table one. The ensemble was playing softly as Eric had fallen to one knee. Lauren, despite her attempts to remain unnerved, was quickly becoming neurotic. Like any other guy, Lauren’s dinner companion was beyond vexed at this time.
“What the hell is going on Lauren? Why is this dude trying to propose to you? Doesn’t he see me sitting here? Aye yo cuz! Don’t you see me sitting here? Have you lost your fuckin’ mind?”
Lauren was beyond resolve. She had been manipulated into a situation which could only end one way. While she wanted to explain the events that led up to this minute, she didn’t have the time. The spotlight was on her.
“So do you believe in us Lauren? I don’t want to be without you. I know you still love me”
Lauren stared longingly into Eric’s hazel eyes with the same spirit she had when they first met. She recalled all the hopes and dreams she had for them after their first date. Eric was the ambitious chef who had just opened his first restaurant. Lauren remembered how he challenged her to follow her vision and start her own practice. Even though he intimidated her a little at the start, Lauren knew that Eric desired what was best for her. He listened to her thoughts and encouraged her every chance he could. She needed that in her life. Unfortunately, her mystery guest could see the same look as well as he began to excuse himself.
“Jeremy, I can explain . . . . . . . . . .”
“It’s obvious that you and ol’ singer boy have had something going on before me so I’m going to let you deal with that. Homeboy can give you a ride home. Have a good night!”
Eric pulled Lauren’s hand to him as she watched Jeremy walk away.
“Come with me to my office and let’s talk this out Lauren. Please . . . .”
Lauren slowly rose from her seat leaving her tears on the table. Eric wrapped his arms around her petite frame while he deceived the crowd.
“She said yes!”
The crowd cheered! Eric motioned the band to start their next selection while he ushered Lauren to the back. As soon as the office door closed, Eric was greeted with a vicious slap to the face!
“How dare you interrupt my evening with your Barry White shenanigans! So now you love me? Now you wanna be my man? After all that fucking time I spent driving to your place every week and you just wanted to be friends?! You’ve got some fucking nerve!”
Lauren took a seat in front of his desk as Eric continued to massage his jaw by the door.
“You’re right Lauren. I do have some nerve making a public scene like that since you’ve obviously been making a scene for the past week and a half! All that bullshit you put online about dude making you feel this way. Dude making you feel that way. Every three hours it’s something about him! You talked about him like he was everything I wasn’t. Like I’ve never encouraged you to chase your dreams. Like I haven’t been there for you when no one else was. Like I haven’t treated you like my queen and taken you out. Remember the time I held you down when you were in between jobs? Sweetness, I’ve been there for you. Dammit, I love you . . . . . “
Lauren crossed her long, sculpted legs as Eric took a seat behind the desk.
“So you love me now huh? I’m supposed to just marry you on the spot? Just like that?”
“Baby, I do love you. It just took me a minute to realize what I had been missing”
“So if you loved me, why couldn’t you just say so? Why did it take me posting my everyday movements with another guy to get your attention? Why did you continue to tell me that you weren’t ready whenever I asked about us being together? And I’m supposed to believe you’re ready now that I have another man?”
Eric leaned back in his chair. He had wanted to avoid this moment of truth. He knew that if he didn’t convey it now, he was going to lose his shot at happiness.
“She . . . . . . told me to keep it a secret . . . . .”
“Who told you to keep what a secret?”
“Jade . . . . your best friend. She didn’t want you to know about us. . . . .”
“About us? You mean to tell me that the two of you . . . . . . .”
Lauren gazed at the popcorn ceiling as she continued to put the pieces together.
“So let me get this straight. When she played matchmaker with us online, you two had just broken up?”
“I wouldn’t say broken up . . . . more like cheated on . . . .”
“So she thought she would smooth things over by setting you up with me? And I guess you weren’t over her . . . . right?”
“You’re right . . . . .”
“That trashy bitch! Do you know she was asking me questions about you every damn day? From how you cooked your food to how your dick tasted?! Man. . . . . . . so she’s the reason for all this drama . . . . . and you? Why the hell did you go through with it?”
“In the beginning of all of this, I did it to get back at Jade. She cheated on me . . . .with not one but several dudes! Being the simp that I was, I kept sending her flowers and poems every morning trying to win her back. Despite seeing photos of her kissing other guys, I continued to believe I had a shot. One day, she proposed the idea of hooking up with a nice woman since there was just no chance of her belonging to me. Reluctantly, I agreed. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to use the opportunity to make Jade jealous. I knew that she was going to be asking for updates so my initial plan was to treat the “next” woman so well that it would make her envious and wanna come back to me. However, when I met you. . . . . my plans for revenge began to change. I saw how honest and genuine you were. The fact that you understood your purpose only made me want you more. I became conflicted. I couldn’t abuse you the way that Jade did me. My heart wouldn’t let me. That’s why it took me three months to go on a second date with you. I didn’t want to bring you into the mess that Jade and I were in”
A tide of tears were on the brink of flooding Lauren’s face, but her pride held back the storm.
“So that’s all I was to you Eric? Payback to Jade?”
“You’re not hearing me love. I didn’t want you to be involved in all of this”
“But you involved me. You couldn’t get your heart right before pulling me into your little mind game with Jade?”
“I didn’t want to Lauren . . . . . . . but you made me love you. I stopped thinking about Jade and all I could think about was you! When I knew I was falling for you, I became nervous. I believed that you would destroy my heart like she did. I didn’t want to hurt again so I found every reason not to commit to you. Whether it was work or the kids . . . . . I’m . . . sorry”
Lauren sat in the chair no longer able to restrain the waters. She was trying to understand Eric’s position in all of this. She was so desperately in love with him but couldn’t get over the fact that she was manipulated by one of her best friends. She couldn’t believe that she had given updates to how Eric was treating her, sexing her, like a fool every week! Lauren was happy that Eric finally told her the truth but now that he did, she didn’t know if she would be able to trust him again.
My question today is if you were in Lauren’s shoes, would you make it work with Eric?
Written by Michael Dock, Founder of The Wednesday Gentleman and Author of the Forthcoming Novel “Addicted to Chaos”
Follow me on Twitter @misterdock and on Instagram @ dockmichael.