Tuesday 4 March

Lucy rang me late on Sunday night and she was fine. She said she’s worried about what I’m getting into, and just doesn’t want me to get hurt, but of course she’ll always be there for me. She’d had a great time at the party and had ended up staying over and going home at tea time, which was why she didn’t answer her phone. I haven’t told her about the kiss.

I finally got hold of Darren on Sunday night too. He was a bit off with me, which I guess is fair enough. He asks me out all the time and I just never make the time for him. I had a really long talk with him and told him I like him and I like going out with him but I’m just not ready for a relationship yet. He said he’s not either, but he just wants to know where he stands so I said that’s up to him but I’m not doing the boyfriend/girlfriend thing. He said we should just see where it goes, and I said okay. He met me from the gym last night and we went for a few drinks, and it was nice. He’s really sweet. He deserves someone much nicer than me.

Spoke to Ben yesterday at work. We were in the laundry room and I just came right out and told him what had happened on Saturday. He said he’d gone round there with his boyfriend, Adam, on Sunday evening and Adam had said afterwards that he thought Jamie had said something odd about me but couldn’t quite remember what it was. I wanted to know what it was, and B said he’d ask but he didn’t think it was anything to worry about. He was really concerned for both of us and asked me what happened after the kiss so I told him it all, even about me fancying J, right up to Jamie’s phone call on Sunday night, and I said I was going to start looking for another job so that I could get away. He just shook his head, pulled me into a hug, and said, “Don’t rush into things.” I said I don’t want to risk doing something stupid again and he said, “You won’t, it’s not like you’re in love with him,” and I just went red and he said, “Oh dear,” and rubbed my back in that lovely way that he does.

And then, of course, it was only a few minutes after that that I saw Jamie coming out of his office, and we both smiled awkwardly at first but then he just slipped into manager mode and started talking about the inspections due next week and we were fine. I’m struggling more than ever to not get flustered when he talks to me at work. When we’re in his house I’m relaxed and able to talk with him about anything as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. Which it is, because we’re friends. So why does it feel different when we’re at work, and I come over like a stupid besotted teenager with a crush?

I haven’t been to Jamie’s since Saturday. When I was leaving work this afternoon, I told J to ring if he wanted help with anything, and he just said thanks and let it go. So now I’m thinking that I’ve scared him off and he won’t want me going round there anymore, and if that’s true then I really will move away because otherwise it will break my heart.

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Sunday 2 March

Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck. I am such an idiot and I don’t know if I can face him tomorrow. He’s said we’re fine, but are we? Oh god I don’t know. And Lucy’s not rung me so I don’t know if she’s talking to me or not.

I ended up telling Lucy everything about J – she has that big sister knack of getting stuff out of me even when I’m fairly sure that I don’t want to tell her. She said straight off that I should stop and think about what I’m doing. She said the fact that he was married had made him off limits to start with, and I should have just stopped mooning over him (her stupid words) as soon as I found out he was married, but now he’s widowed he’s even more off limits because it would be taking advantage in the worst possible way. I told her I wouldn’t do that and I’ve no intention of making a move on him but she just said, “If you had the chance to kiss him, would you?” and she just knew I couldn’t say ‘No’ to that and she got into an almighty huff about being on dangerous ground and I’d end up hurting him and myself. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something she’s not telling me.

Anyway, she was only here for Friday night because she had a party to go to last night, but we spent half the day together yesterday and she came with me to pick my car up from the garage, and she left after our late lunch at Cafe Nero. We got into a bit of a row, though – she’s insisting I either tell J how I feel about him so he knows what he’s getting into, or I just take a massive step back and stay away from him altogether – but I can’t do either. No way am I going to tell him that I’ve fancied him all along – what the hell will he think of me? So Lucy ended up leaving in a huff and saying she doesn’t want to hear about it when it all blows up in my face, and that left me on a real downer. I couldn’t ring her while she was driving, and then her phone was off last night and isn’t back on yet. I’ve left her a message on voicemail though, so hopefully she’ll get back to me tonight.

After Lucy left, J called me. I mean, on my mobile (!). He didn’t talk for a while, he said he didn’t know why he was calling. He didn’t sound ok, so after we got off the ‘phone I went to his to check on him.

He had visitors when I got there, but they were on the point of leaving so J invited me in and introduced us. When they’d gone, he told me that they were old friends from Uni and they’d heard about Helen and had come to see J because they’d lost touch years ago. I suppose they just wanted to give him their condolences in person. He said it was nice to see them, but it had been a bit awkward because they hadn’t been in touch with each other for years and he quickly realised that they had little in common now, and neither of them knew about Beth and he hates when people get uncomfortable around her, so he said I’d arrived just at the right time because it gave them all a good excuse for them to leave.

I could tell straight away he wasn’t ok, so for some reason I offered to cook him dinner, thinking maybe he needed help after a long day entertaining people. He said ok. Now I think about it, he said, “Um, yeah, ok, if you’re sure” which wasn’t very enthusiastic. If only I’d been sharp enough to pick up on it – he was probably only agreeing to be polite.

After he had put Beth to bed (she seemed really happy to see me again. I’m really starting to adore this little girl. I know some people feel uncomfortable around her, but she’s so kind-hearted and gentle and sweet. My heart breaks for her. Imagine growing up without your mum), I made him some tea and we ate it together. Then he asked if I wanted a drink and I (stupidly!) asked for a glass of wine. He said he had a bottle leftover from when his mum and sister were staying, and he went to get it. Before we knew it – the bottle was empty.

He told me he wanted to explain what had upset him yesterday when he picked Beth up from school. I said there was no need but he was adamant.

It’s Mother’s Day today, and the kids had made their own cards in school. Obviously Beth hadn’t been discouraged from joining in, so she’d been waving her card at J when he arrived to pick her up. What had upset him, was that she’d signed it herself and this is the first time she’s managed to do that on her own, and he said Helen would have been so proud and delighted because she’d spent such a long time with Beth teaching her how to do it, and now she’d finally mastered it but Helen would never know.

“Then, I guess I was thinking about how Helen’s gone and she’ll never experience these things, she’ll never experience so many things, and that just made me feel even more guilty…”

“Guilty?” I said, putting my glass down. “What do you mean?”

He just turned and stared at me. “Surely you know what I mean?”

My head was racing! My throat went dry, my hands started to shake. What was happening??

He continued, “I’ve been asking you to help, I’ve been calling and making up reasons to talk to you, I’m a bad person, I can’t believe she’s barely gone and…” then he put his face in his hands and started to cry.

I didn’t know what to do, I just put a hand on his shoulder, shifting closer to him to do so, then he looked up and… oh, I don’t know. Did I kiss him or did he kiss me? I have no idea but suddenly we were kissing. Then he pulled back a bit and murmured, “ Helen…”

Then he really broke down. He just cried and cried and cried. To be honest I think he probably hasn’t cried enough since Helen died and he’s got a lot to get out of his system, so I just put my arms round his shoulders and let him cry. We sat there like that for ages before I realized he’d cried himself to sleep – god knows I know how that feels – so I stayed where I was rather than disturb him and eventually I dozed off as well. It was about 3 o’clock when we both woke up – I hope to God I wasn’t snoring, cos I don’t know what woke us – and it was so awkward. He didn’t know where to look, I didn’t know where to look, and we were still both apologising, so I told him to go to bed and I’d go home.

He nodded like it was a really good idea, and said thanks for the dinner, and then he went upstairs so I let myself out and drove home. It took me ages to get to sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about that kiss, and his face when he realised what we were doing. What the hell was I thinking?? I’m fairly sure I didn’t plan on kissing him. God he’s a good kisser – I’m getting horny just thinking about it. The thing is that I enjoyed it, but he was absolutely mortified and so upset that it breaks my heart to think of it. Talk about being torn in two – half of me gets turned on just thinking about that kiss, while the other half is hurting for him because of it.

So I finally got to sleep sometime after 5 this morning and slept in until 11. I tried ringing Lucy, I even tried ringing Darren, though I don’t know why because I keep blowing him off so I can’t imagine he’s talking to me, but both their phones were off. I was going to ring Ben but couldn’t think of a decent way of telling him what had happened, so I’ll leave that until I see him at work tomorrow. I went out for a walk after lunch and ended up in the park, sitting on Mum’s bench and having a bloody good cry. I just kept thinking that I’ve caused J so much pain – and I realised that Lucy was right, and I need to get away from the situation before I make it worse. And then when I got home there was a message on my answering machine and a missed call on my mobile and they were both from J.

I was in two minds about ringing him back but I was too scared, so I waited and, in the end, he rang this evening, just after he’d put Beth to bed, and I really wish he hadn’t because I think I love him more than ever now. He’s got no idea what he’s doing to me, and I’m too scared to tell him.

He said he’d rung his sister this morning and told her about last night. OMG! I could have died when he said that, and I think he could tell that I was shocked because he said he hoped I didn’t mind but he knows he can rely on Elspeth to make him think straight. I just said okay. He said he was sorry, and I did too, and then he said he hopes it won’t spoil our friendship because he really appreciates everything I’ve done, especially with Beth, and he said he honestly doesn’t think he could cope without me and Ben chipping in. And he asked me if we’re okay and I could have cried, because it’s totally not his fault – it’s mine – and I said, “I am if you are” and he said “Oh that’s so good to know” and he thanked me and I don’t think I could feel any guiltier than if I’d stuck a knife through his heart and killed him.

So I guess we’re fine and we’ll just forget about last night and carry on as we were, just friends. I really am okay with that, even though in a perfect world I’d want much more. Then he asked me if I’d been okay today, with it being Mother’s Day, and I told him I’d been up to the park for a bit of a wallow, and he said he’d have to try that. He said he’d taken Beth to Helen’s grave to put some flowers there, and Beth had been quiet afterwards, so he’s wondering if she’s beginning to understand what’s happened. I said we’ll just have to keep taking tiny steps, and he said that’s what Elspeth had said.

He’ll be back at work tomorrow, and I’ll have to face him and try not to think about that kiss and the fallout from it. I need to focus on the hurt it caused him, rather than the yumminess of it. Why, oh why couldn’t he be a shite kisser?!

pinkrose

Friday 29 February

Well, for a Friday it’s been fairly quiet. None of the kids got sent home from school – a first! – and everyone turned up for their shifts (not so unusual, but it certainly made the day easier), and I got a lift home off Jamie 🙂

I was walking to the bus stop (car’s in for its MOT, I’m picking it up in the morning) and he pulled up and offered me a lift. He said he had to pick Beth up from school on the way and asked if that was ok. I said of course it was, and off we went. I waited in the car while he went in for her, and when he came out he was looked deathly pale, and I know now that that means he’s upset, so when he’d settled Beth into her seat and then got in behind the wheel I asked him if everything’s okay. He just nodded and started driving, but he seemed really off with me, like he didn’t want to look at me. I didn’t know what to do so I turned around and said hello to Beth. She seemed really pleased to see me! She said my name and everything. J looked really surprised. “She never remembers people like that,” he told me. “She seems really comfortable with you.”

After he dropped me off, I picked up some stuff for dinner and made spag bol because it’s Lucy’s favourite. She’ll be here in an hour or so, if the traffic is okay. Still don’t know what to tell her about J. I mean, big sisters are there to listen and advise, aren’t they? She’s always been good at that, and I know I can trust her to not say anything to anyone if I ask her not to, but … I don’t know what I’m scared of. I don’t know what she’s going to say but I don’t want her telling me to step back because I know I can’t do that. I don’t think I can, anyway.

God I’m in a mess

Thursday 28 February

I called in on Jamie this afternoon, on my way to work. I told myself I was just being a friend; I was just checking in on a friend the day after his wife’s funeral. I told myself I definitely wasn’t doing it because I had dreamt about him all night and I couldn’t think about anything but him.

We went through to the kitchen, and I could see he was in the middle of opening a pile of mail. He said it had been piling up for days, and most of it was cards. We were sitting down and talking about work as he opened another envelope and went all still. His freckles stand out really dark when he goes pale – I hadn’t noticed that before today. I asked him if he was okay and he said, “It’s an insurance claim,” and it took me a minute to realise he meant life insurance. I was going to offer to help him fill the form in but he looked like he didn’t want to face it just then so I didn’t say anything. I asked if everyone had got off okay and he said Elspeth had taken Muriel and Angela to the airport and then she was driving home with their mum. He said he hadn’t seen his brother, Dougal, since the reception after the funeral, but he’d probably be back in London by now. I get the impression there’s a bit of friction between him and Dougal, but he didn’t say anything about that. Dougal looks a lot like J and he’s nice enough – a bit older than J, I think, and not as tall or as thin, and his hair’s a bit lighter – but I don’t think they have much in common.

I didn’t stay long, I had to get to work. I didn’t want to leave…

Lucy rang tonight – she said she’s coming up tomorrow for a weekend visit. I’ve hardly had time to talk to her since she got back from the states, but tonight she asked me if I’m still lusting over J or if I’ve found a proper boyfriend and I just changed the subject. I’m really scared that I’ve fallen in love with him and I don’t know whether to tell her or not.

Wednesday 27 February

God what a day. Why can’t these people just have a little compassion and keep their bloody mouths shut instead of lashing out and causing so much hurt? It was a funeral and still people only think about themselves.

Ben and I got to the church just after 10 this morning and we were one of the first people there. I could see J standing on the opposite side of the road, having a row with a woman I didn’t recognise. He seemed very upset.

There was a small group of people gathered in the churchyard, so we approached them and they turned out to be J’s family. We introduced ourselves and it turned out they knew who we were. J’s sister, Elspeth, said J had talked about me a lot. I thought that was strange, what had I done to warrant him telling his family about me? Then I felt like they were all staring at me, waiting for me to say something, but I didn’t know what.

Not long after, the woman J was rowing with came over into the churchyard and joined the group of family, and Ben and me. She just stopped and stared at me like I was a Martian or something. Elspeth introduced us, and I realised this was Muriel, Helen’s mother. I said hello but she just looked daggers at me and said, “You might have waited until my daughter’s in the ground before making a move!”

I was speechless. I tried to tell myself she was just grieving, that she didn’t mean to be so hurtful, but something in the way Elspeth was awkwardly shifting her feet and avoiding the conversation, not to mention the shouting I had just heard between her and J, suggested otherwise. This woman truly believed I was moving in on her dead daughter’s husband, and she was perfectly ready to accuse me of it at the funeral. What was I meant to say?

Then I remembered my fantasy of being his saviour and him falling for me through it all, and I felt sick. Was I trying to make a move on him? What on earth was I doing?
J came over shortly after Muriel, pushing his little girl in her pushchair. He hardly said a word to me. I tried to break the tension by saying hello to Beth but I seemed to just upset her. J told me she’s not used to strangers, then bent down to her level and said, ‘This is Tasha. Tasha is one of daddy’s very good friends.’ I suddenly felt my face flush hot, and I was aware everyone was staring at me again. Beth looked up at me and I focused on her instead and said hello again. This time, she smiled.

The church was packed, with people standing at the back. The service was lovely. Jamie got up and talked about Helen and their life together and how much they loved each other and Beth – he was emotional but he managed to keep it together and it was absolutely beautiful. It made me wish I had known her.

At the end, during the worst bit – where you have to shake everyone’s hand and thank them for coming – Helen’s mother said something awful about Jamie being all calm and cool, like he’d already got over Helen and was ready to move on. Helen’s sister (Angela) told her off and tried to take her out of the way, but Muriel was having none of it. I decided to just get out of the way and went with Ben to the hotel for the reception. We were there before anyone else and were the only ones there when J and Beth arrived on their own. J apologised to me for what Muriel had said, making excuses for her having lost her daughter and being out of her mind with grief and all that. I just told him not to worry about it.

The reception was lovely, but I could tell it was hard on J. People kept coming over to him and telling him how much they thought of Helen, and sharing memories of her – he’d said that’s what he wanted, during the service – and it was really sweet but I’ve no idea how he didn’t break down because if people had done that about Mum at her funeral I would have lost it.

Elspeth rang me a little while ago, just as I was getting ready for bed. I guess she got my number off J, I don’t know. It was weird though. She and her mum will be going home tomorrow so she wanted to say goodbye and to say thank you for helping out with J and stuff. But then she said, “He’s really vulnerable at the moment and he could so easily get hurt.” I told her I wouldn’t hurt him for the world and she said, “Just be careful.”

What should I make of that? She’s clearly picked up on the fact I like J. Does she think I’m only helping him because I fancy him? Oh god, am I only helping him because I fancy him?

I bit the bullet and asked her why she was saying these things to me, had he said something? And she said he’s not said anything in particular, but she could tell there’s something there and he feels guilty about it. Oh my god!

Tuesday 26 February

Lucy rang while I was at work this morning. She got back from the states last night and she’s already desperate to go back. She asked if I’d started saving for the New York trip and I half-lied and said yes (there’s £5 in the kitty) and she said she’s going in August whether I come or not. Love you too, sis.

Monday 25 February

Lucy rang last night from LA, just as I was going to bed. She’ll be home sometime today I think (time zones do my head in) but I told her we can catch up when she’s slept and got over the jet lag.

Jamie called into work this morning. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since the accident, and goddam he was looking good. Oh god why am I thinking like that! He actually came to find me though and talked to me for a bit which was nice. I wasn’t expecting it. He told me he’s taken his little girl out of school and he’s changing his hours. He said he’ll be back at work next week though, which surprised me. I thought he’d need a lot longer.

‘I need to keep busy,’ he told me. ‘It’s too quiet at home. Everything makes me think of her. But here…’ he trailed off then met my eye and I swear he blushed. Why would he blush? Then he sort of fumbled over a sentence about needing to go and nearly ran from the room. It was weird.

Went to the gym after work and had a bloody good work-out. Darren met me outside and we went for a drink but I really wasn’t in the mood. He’s got an early shift tomorrow so we didn’t stay long. He came in for coffee but when he started kissing me, I told him I’ve got my period, and lo and behold he went home half an hour later. Why are single men bastards and married men not? Or… ugh, I’m being unfair. Is it just that I want what I can’t have??