Well it took me just over a year instead of 12 weeks, but I did it! One short story in the books. I have lots of other work in progress (way too many if we’re being honest) so marking one off list finally feels amazing. I’m still not sure what my plans are for this project, but this phase is complete. I know it’s a very rough first draft, but hope you still find it entertaining. So without further adieu, here is the end (for now) of Isla Doesn’t Give a F**K.
Before you read further make sure you’re all caught up:
Snippet Eleven: The Truth
Nick did all the heavy lifting moving me into my new town home after the divorce and continued taking care of me in the weeks that followed. One day after restocking my pantry, again, he hung a list on my fridge.
Isla’s New Life Rules:
- Get out of the house at LEAST once a day
- Get back into yoga
- Do NOT set up another Tinder account
- Actually cook meals *pizza cannot be eaten 3 times a day*
- Find a job
“Nicky, that’s a lot of work,” I whined.
I had hardly moved off my sofa since moving in. I had no clue what I wanted from my life and the few months since Peter and I split was the longest I’d ever been single. I felt beyond useless.
He didn’t say a word. He simply sat on the couch and wrapped me in his arms. It was the happiest I’d felt in weeks. I don’t know how long we sat there, but it wasn’t enough. When he got up to get his phone from the kitchen, I was instantly back to my blue and melancholy mood.
He laid a blanket across me and kissed the top of my head. “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“Kay,” I whispered.
When I heard the door close behind him, I started to cry. I wanted that feeling to return. I wanted him to stay. I wanted…
How had I never seen it?
The plot of every damn romance film had played out around me, and I had never noticed!
Nick was the one I was supposed to be with.
He was the only man whoever truly loved me. I knew I loved him as a friend, but never imagined being IN love with him.
Clearly, he’d felt the same way, at least before Peter. I hoped it wasn’t too late.
A few days of following Nicky’s “rules”, minus the new job part, and fantasizing about our future together, I felt like a whole new person. My caffeine habit was back, I was enrolled in a yoga class, and I hadn’t touched a frozen pizza.
We had planned on ordering take out to celebrate one month of being in my town home, but I was ready to turn the night into a celebration of the day we confessed the truth to each other and lived happily ever after.
“Let’s go out!” I suggested when he arrived. “Somewhere nice. I’ve got some exciting news.”
“I have some things I’ve been meaning to tell you too.” He had a nervous grin across his face.
I bet we have the same news. This is going to be perfect!
He opened doors for me, held out his hand as I got out of the car; I wasted all those years searching for a gentleman, and he’d been right by my side the whole time.
He looked so handsome sitting across from me. After high school, I had only seen the goofy kid I had class with. I hadn’t taken the time to look at the man he had become.
“Isla,” he began. “Seeing you go through this with Peter has really shown me we can’t hide who we are.”
“I know. I’m never going to make a mistake like that again.” I waited at the edge of my seat.
“I’ve needed to tell you this for a long time…and I’m sorry it’s taken so long.” He rubbed the back of his neck and avoided looking directly at me. “It’s silly really. I mean I’m sure you already know…”
My skin crawled with goosebumps. I prepared the words ‘I love you too’ on the tip of my tongue.
“I lo—. What?” My words came out in a jumble so thankfully he didn’t understand.
“I’ve been dating this guy, Brian, and I would like you to meet him. It would mean a lot to me.”
My face went blank. I broke into a sweat and felt like I was about to throw up the dinner I hadn’t eaten yet.
“Isla. Isla. Are you okay?” Nick’s voice sounded fuzzy and distant.
“Yeah, I just need to…” I looked around the restaurant in a daze. “Bathroom, I need to go to the bathroom I’ll be right back.”
I kicked the table as I got up and almost ran into a waiter as I turned the corner abruptly. I darted for the bathroom, jumped in the first stall, and slammed the door.
“WHAT. THE. F**K.” I tried to keep my voice down, but it came out in a loud grunt. My purse became my weapon of choice for slapping the walls around me with each word I uttered. “HOW. COULD. I. BE. SO. STUPID! Ahhhhh!”
When my makeup started falling out of my purse from flailing it around, I realized I needed to take a moment to breathe. I gathered my things back up and leaned against the wall.
“I’m not wrong.” I told myself aloud. “He’s wrong. Nicky isn’t gay. He’s confused or experimenting or something. He loves me. I have to win him back.”
Act like nothing changed. Flirt with him. Seduce him. My plan was fool proof.
I walked back to our table. My arm swept behind his neck and across his shoulder as I took my seat. “Sorry ‘bout that, Nicky.”
“So like I was saying. I was thinking next weekend you two could meet.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I shrugged. “We’ll figure that out next week, but tonight we should do movie night. We haven’t done that in months.”
“It’s been over a year.” He looked disappointed.
I was convinced he was so hurt over me leaving him for Peter that was the reason he was unsure about his sexuality.
“Well that’s unacceptable! We can never let it go that long again.”
He smiled. “You pick the movie, I pick dessert?”
I reached out my hand and laid it across his resting on the table. “As always.”
I picked a horror film so I’d have a reason to sit closer to him on the couch. I poured stronger drinks than usual to ensure we’d both be feeling more than buzzed by then end. I slipped into my shortest and laciest night gown just for good measure.
When the credits began to scroll it was time to see how well the alcohol had done its job. I snuggled into the crook of his neck and slowly pressed my lips to his skin. Drinks must have hit him hard seeing as it took him a good minute to have any kind of reaction. Just before I brought my lips to meet his for the first time, he stopped me.
“Isla, what are you doing?” His eyes studied mine.
“You’ve never wondered what it’d be like? If we could make this work, and not pretend work like our silly promise. For real work, Nick.”
His breath began to deepen. “I don’t know…I mean—”
I kissed him as hard as I could. I couldn’t let him think too much. I had to show him I was all he needed.
Snippet Twelve: The Fallout
I woke up alone. I found Nick at the dining room table with his head resting heavily on his clasped hands and his foot nervously thumping at the floor.
“Nicky, you okay?” I tried to rub his shoulder, but he pushed my arm away.
“No! You manipulated me, Isla. You used me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Last night!” He stood up from his chair
I shrank back. “What about last night?”
“I didn’t want that.”
“I didn’t force you to have sex with me. You seemed pretty willing in the moment.”
“You got me drunk. You—”
“We drink together all the time!” I rolled my eyes.
“It was poor judgment on my part, I can admit that, but I told you I was seeing someone.”
“So, I’m not you.” He looked at me with disgust. “I give a shit about being loyal. I actually care about people’s feelings.”
His words pierced my heart. I felt more pain in that moment than I did signing my divorce papers.
“I love you, Nicky.” I choked back tears. “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to realize it, but it’s true. I would never do anything to hurt you.”
“Well you did, and I don’t know if I can forgive you.” He started towards the front door.
I went after him. “You can’t leave like this. We have to talk this through.”
“I’ll call you later. I can’t do this right now.”
I need a few days to think he texted.
A few days turned into a few weeks. I tried my best to give him space. He wouldn’t answer my calls and was short with his text replies, if he replied at all. It was the longest I’d gone in ten years without hearing his voice.
I had to give him a reason to come back to me and stay.
Without fully thinking my plan through I messaged him We have to talk. In person. This is an emergency.
I’ll be over in an hour he answered.
He let himself in as usual. I was glad to see he was still comfortable doing that at least. I hoped we’d fall back into our norm. That the month-long break was enough for him to call things off with his boyfriend, evaluate his feelings for me, and decide to move forward.
Nick was cold and standoffish. His face still looked as broken and betrayed as the morning he’d stormed out. He didn’t come in a sit down or ask how I’d been. Panic set in and I was afraid he’d turn around and leave.
“I’m pregnant,” I blurted out.
All the color left his face.
“Nicky, say something!”
“You think it’s mine?” He didn’t blink.
“You’re the only one I’ve been with, of course it’s yours.”
“Shit,” he said under his breath.
Definitely not the reaction I was looking for. I started to sob uncontrollably. I buried my face in my hands.
“I didn’t mean it that way. Isla. Isla.” He came to me, gently held my shoulders, and tried to get me to look at him. “We’ll figure this out, okay?”
“I’m not really pregnant!” I screamed through the tears.
“What?” He dropped his hands and stepped back from me.
“I didn’t want to lose you. I needed you to stay with me.”
“So you were going to fake a pregnancy?” His brow furrowed and he slowly shook his head.
“I…” I looked around helplessly. I couldn’t make any other words come out.
“You weren’t going to lose me, but now you have.”
He turned and walked out without ever looking back.
Nick was gone.
Our friendship no longer existed outside of social media. I was relieved he hadn’t unfriended me and as the months went on, he even occasionally liked posts I shared.
I tried to make him proud and apply all the lessons he’d taught me over the years to better my life. I decided to start a yoga teacher training and stopped eating frozen pizza again to name a couple improvements. I had to find a balance between drama-queen-high-school Isla and fake married-to-Peter Isla. I was beginning to get the hang of the adulting thing, all thanks to Nicky.
I was glad I could keep up with him, even if it was only via the internet or stories from Leslie. She seemed to be the only mutual friend that stayed mutual. Everyone else gravitated towards Nick. My popularity had been as shallow as I was.
When Nick and Brian came out publicly they looked so happy. I wanted to stay angry at Nick for abandoning me as a friend after all our years together, but I realized I was angry at myself. If I’d kept my mouth shut I would probably be having a great time being a third wheel on his and Brian’s adventures. Everyone was so supportive of them, and I felt like an ass for trying to dismiss Nick’s truth and force myself on him.
The feeling of love never went away. It was different than the love I had for him when we were friends, and different than being in love with him. It was a feeling of gratitude for carrying me through all the bullshit. He didn’t have to stick by my side all those years. He didn’t have to listen day in and day out about the soap opera I thought my life was.
But he did.
As I lamented to Leslie one afternoon about wanting to reach out to Nick, she kept looking at me with confusion. I thought she was tired of listening to me talk, until she went to get something from her office.
“I was really conflicted on showing you this, but I think you need to.” She handed me the embossed paper she had retrieved.
Nicholas M. Foster
Brian S. Lawson
Request your presence at the celebration of their union.
“Nicky’s getting married.” I said with disbelief.
“He wanted to invite you. He did. He didn’t think you’d want to come.” Leslie’s eyes stayed fixed to the ground.
“Of course I want to come! I thought I’d be in his wedding!”
“I can call him.” She quickly suggested. “I’m sure it’s not too late to add you to the guest list. You’ve both been telling me how much you want to talk to each other. This is your opportunity.”
“Please don’t tell him I even know about it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’ll figure it out.”
The day of the wedding I snuck through the vendor entrance of the venue. I wasn’t sure what kind of psycho Nick had painted me to his friends and family, so I wanted to go unnoticed as long as possible.
I heard his voice around a corner and waited until I thought everyone had left. I knocked on the partially open door.
I wondered if he’d be saying that if he knew it was me on the other side. I slowly opened the door and was relieved to find him alone.
“I’m not here to crash the ceremony. I promise.”
He turned from the mirror he had been fixing his tie in and froze with his eyes locked on me.
“I needed to tell you I’m sorry. For everything, for being a shitty friend in school, for being a crazy person with all my boy drama, for ditching you when I married Peter, and for trying to force you…whatever that stunt was I tried to pull. I’m sorry I hurt you. I always thought I’d be a part of your big day, and I hate myself for ruining my chances of that.”
He wiped a tear from his eye. “How’d you know anyway?”
“Leslie told me.” I choked back tears and the urge to run to hug him. “I should get going, I—”
“Stay.” He said without hesitation.
I couldn’t fight the tears any longer. We were on our way to Nick forgiving me, but I knew we couldn’t magically be back to the way things had been. I didn’t’ want him worrying about me throughout his big day or having to answer questions from friends about why I suddenly was back in his life. “I don’t want the first time I meet Brian to be at your wedding. So, promise we’ll all grab dinner soon, or maybe have a movie night?”
Nick stepped across the room to my side and held out his hand with his pinky extended. “Next Friday?”
“Next Friday.” I curled my finger around his.
“You pick the movie, I pick dessert?”
“Brian can pick both. I need him on my good side. We have a lot of time to make up for.” I wrapped my arms around his waist. “Nicky, are we going to be okay?”
“Yeah…I think we will be.”