Friday, February 6, 2015

Back to 2013

In the weeks following New Year's Eve, Nick and I became inseparable. It was like a switch had flipped, sending us hurtling us back into 2013. After the New Year's kiss, he had explained to me that his producers had been pushing him and Hadley to get together, but he told me that he didn't have any feelings for her. I was skeptical at first but within a short few days we were spending nearly all of our free time together - and all of my worries had vanished. Ashley and Trevor had been hot and heavy as well, and the four of us had formed our own little gang that spent nearly every evening hanging out.

"Hey you," I said to Ash when I returned home from work exhausted on Thursday evening. I plopped down on the couch without even removing my jacket. 

"How was your day?" I asked, while scrolling absentmindedly through my Instagram feed. 

"Fine, boring. Work is slow this time of year," she replied, scarfing down the last of her dinner. "Are you going to the guys tonight?" 

"I think so," I replied, unzipping my jacket. "You?"

She shook her head, "No, Trev is working late."

I nodded and continued scrolling Instagram. 

"Dani?" Ash asked a few minutes later.

"Hmm?" I replied without looking up from the Cosmo photo of a shirtless man I was ogling.

"Do you think that maybe.. you and Nick are moving a little too fast?" she asked. 

I didn't immediately answer. It wasn't as if this hadn't occurred to me - I had been spending so much time with him any sane person would have questioned it. I was actually surprised it had taken Ashley so long to say something. Ever the outspoken one, keeping things to herself was not one of her stronger traits. 

I sighed. "I mean, I don't know. I'm not rushing to date him or anything, I'm just having fun," I said, repeating the same words I had been telling myself every time I took a pause and assessed the situation. Fun. It was always my excuse when it came to Nick. 

"But.. you don't think that maybe he's like.. a rebound?" she asked. 

I was ready for this one too. Of course it would look like a rebound. Jumping into the arms of my ex a few weeks after breaking up with Dylan. 

"I don't know Ash.. maybe. But there's no black and white answer to that." 

She seemed to accept this. "Okay.. as long as you're aware of it. I just don't want you to regret anything."

"I won't," I said, trying to swallow the more defensive things that I wanted to say. I knew she was just looking out for me, but it still rubbed me the wrong way. 

"I have to go pack," I said, getting up and heading to my room. Once inside I grabbed a pair of white jeans, booties and a gray sweater for work the next day, tossed some makeup in and texted Nick.

Leaving now

I slung the bag over my shoulder and headed out the door. 

"I'll see you after work tomorrow," I said to Ash as I headed out. 

"Wait," she said. I turned to her, one hand on the doorknob. I faced her and waited expectantly.

"I wasn't trying to call you out before, I don't care what you do or who you do," I smirked at this, "so long as you're happy. I'm just lookin' out," she said. 

I laughed. "I know, and I love you for that. I'll see you tomorrow."

A few minutes later, I was knocking on Nick's door. Even though it had been more than a month since we had started seeing each other again, it still shocked me each time I returned to his place that I was here again. Both literally and figuratively.

"Hey gorgeous," he said, swinging open the door in nothing but a pair of gym shorts. He leaned in and gave me a long kiss, removing the bag from my shoulder and ushering me in. I held on an extra moment, absorbing his warmth. God damn these New York winters.

"Hungry?" he asked, dropping my bag on the couch.

"That depends," I said, wrapping my arms around his waist. "For food or for you?"

He laughed, but kissed me anyway. I felt heat shoot down from my lips to my toes, and I leaned in further to him. 

"I made fajitas," he said between kisses, giving my ass a squeeze as he pulled away. 

I shrugged off my coat and headed toward the delicious smell. 

"Steak?" I asked. 

He smiled, draping his arm around my waist and pulling me close as he stirred a pot of peppers and onions. It still amazed me how much his body had changed since starting the show. They had hired him a personal trainer and it was definitely showing. Not that he hadn't been something to write home about before, but now he looked more like a Calvin Klein model than a regular guy.

"Of course," he said. "Grab it out of the oven?"

I grabbed an oven mit and pulled the filet out, setting it on the stove.

"Anything else I can do for you sir?" I asked.

"That'll be all, sous chef," he replied and started fixing us some plates. 

After the delicious dinner, we were laying in his bed watching the last few weeks' worth of New Girl episodes. 

"It amazes me that Nick and Jess are so normal after breaking up," I said, nuzzled into the nook between his arm and his chest. 

"Yeah, but that's TV for you," he replied, absentmindedly stroking my hair.

"Speaking of," I said, hoisting myself up so that we were facing each other. "Are you guys doing a second season?" 

When I was still with Dylan, it had been easy to think of Nick as the same person he had always been - humble, goofy and, all in all, mine. He was always my Nick. But now after doing that show he seemed to be everyone's Nick. It was rare that we could go out and not have someone recognize him, throwing a comment I didn't understand his way since I hadn't watched the show. At bars and restaurants I always kept my distance, not wanting a picture to surface on the internet that would cause speculation. It was fun at first, seeing Nick in this new way. But after a while I just wanted to stay home and think of him as the same person he had been before this all began. 

"We haven't heard yet if it's been picked up," he said, not tearing his eyes away from the screen. 

I settled back into his chest and tried not to think about it. Even though I wasn't anywhere near ready to date him, I also had no desire to share him with all of America.

The slam of the front door pulled me out of my thoughts. I heard Trevor's voice, muffled through the walls of the apartment. I started to get back into the scene Jess was causing with an airport employee on the TV when I heard a second voice coming from the living room, this one definitely not Trevor's. 

"Who is that?" I asked, turning to Nick. 

"Trevor.." he said.

I rolled my eyes, "The girl."

Just then, a distinctive girl's giggle drifted through the walls. 

"Ashley?" he shrugged, seemingly completely ignorant. 

"She would have texted me, and I would recognize her voice," I said, climbing out of the bed.

"What are you doing?" Nick asked, a trace of humor in his voice. 

"Finding out who that is," I said, grabbing a pair of his sweats and throwing them on.

"Dani, don't make it weird," he said.

"How would I make it weird?" I said. 

He looked pointedly at my outfit. "You're going to run out there in my clothes and accuse him of cheating on your friend?" 

I turned on my heel and headed down the hall without answering. I could hear Trevor and the mysterious girl talking in the living room. Ever the genius, I decided to pretend I was grabbing a glass of water and that I hadn't even heard them walk in.

As I sauntered into the kitchen, I cast a side-eyed glance into the living room where I could see them sitting on the couch. 

"Oh! Hey Trev," I said, reaching into the cabinet for the glass. 

"Hey D," he said, standing up. He was still in his work clothes and next to him sat a skinny blonde girl who looked barely legal. "This is my coworker, Lauren," he said, gesturing to the teenager.

"Hello," I said, giving her an overly-nice smile. "I'm Dani." 

"Hi," she said in a high-pitched voice, unmoving from her perch on the couch. 

"What are you two up to?" I asked, sipping on the water. I hadn't bothered to look when I turned on the faucet and it was scalding hot. 

"We grabbed some drinks after work with a few people in our department," Trevor said, looking uncomfortable. 

"Fun," I replied flatly. I was debating how to interject Ashley into the conversation without being obvious when I heard Nick coming down the hall.

"Dani?" he said, coming into the kitchen. "Hey man," he added, doing the standard boy-nod to Trevor. "Coming to bed?" he asked, returning his attention to me. 

"Mmmhm," I replied, casting one last meaningful smile at Trevor, I followed Nick back into his room like a puppy who had just been caught eating the furniture. 

"What are you doing?" he asked, falling back into bed. 

"He's cheating on Ashley with a middle schooler!" I said. "And you didn't introduce yourself to her, which means you know her, so start talking mister."

"Yes, she's his coworker," he said. 

"Is he hooking up with her?" I accused. 

"No! He's with Ashley," Nick said, sounding exasperated. 

"Then how do you know her, and why is she here at 11:00 on a Thursday?" 

"She lives nearby and probably has a crush on him, I don't know," Nick said. "All I know is you're ridiculous, but you sure can pull off those sweatpants." He reached for me, pulling down the sweats and dragging me back to his side. 

I returned his kiss and sunk down into the bed, all thoughts of Trevor evaporating from my mind.