Greg turned up at Grace's house unexpectedly that night. He was in his chinos and a crisp white shirt, his blonde chest hairs showing beneath the open collar, a scent of soap and freshly washed man wafting towards her. He looked smart and handsome, the kind of man most women would dream of dating, but Grace's heart was too bruised to be moved by this decent, supposedly desirable man standing on her doorstep.
"I'm taking you out to dinner," he declared, flashing a happy smile.
No you're not, thought Grace.
"Go and put on something nice."
"I'm not going out tonight, Greg," she said in a tired voice. "In fact, why don't you come in, there's something I need to say to you."
Seeing Greg standing in front of her and noticing her reaction to him, something had suddenly become crystal clear to her. She couldn't continue seeing him. It wasn't fair to him. She had lost Sam, she knew that, but knowing how she felt every time she looked at him, ever since the very first time she had set eyes on him in Shannon's bar, she couldn't continue sleeping with Greg. It just woudn't work. It was clear that she did not actually want safe and dependable. She had been forcing herself to want something she thought she needed, and it hadn't worked. What she had needed all along was Sam. If only she had realised that before it was too late.
"I cannot believe you dumped Greg!" Lisa yelled across the staff lounge.
Grace grabbed her arm and dragged her across the hall into the women's restroom.
"I would like to keep my private life private," Grace said through gritted teeth.
"Dave said Greg's a mess. He's totally destroyed."
Oh God, thought Grace, that was all she needed. She was too destroyed herself to do anything about Greg, or even feel much sympathy.
"Why did you dump him?" Lisa asked. "I thought you guys were getting along well."
"We were, but there was no spark."
"You seemed happy to sleep with him," Lisa pointed out.
"I was, it was nice, but who wants nice?"
Lisa looked at her in surprise. "Well I don't, but I thought you did. You seem so…"
Lisa was clearly trying to avoid being insulting so Grace helped her out.
"No," Lisa said thoughtfully.
Lisa laughed. "God no! I guess you seem straight," she said. "Like you want a man who is straight too."
Grace smiled. "It looks like I'm quite a good actor!" she said and left Lisa pondering the implications of that statement.
Grace may have been fooling everyone else but she had stopped fooling herself. When she got home, she sat on her sofa in her empty living room and stared at the wall for five minutes before starting to weep tears of both sadness and anger. She was angry with Sam for getting Shannon pregnant. She was angry with him for stringing her along. She was angry with him for making her fall for him. But above all she was angry with herself for not grabbing him when she could have and never letting him go.
The phone rang and in her miserable haze she absentmindedly answered it. It was Brandon.
"Grace," he purred, sounding slightly drunk.
"Are you drunk?" she asked.
"A little bit. It's given me the courage to call you."
"You have plenty of courage, Brandon," she said, suddenly remembering his very sexy confidence. There had been plenty of spark between her and Brandon. Too much, that's why he'd broken her heart. History was repeating itself.
"God, I miss you Gracie," he said. "I miss your laugh, and the way you bite your tongue when you're concentrating. And I really miss making love to you," he added, his voice going a few octaves lower. And despite herself, Grace felt her body responding to his words as images of an aroused Brandon flashed through her mind.
"I keep thinking about that day we got carried away in the parking lot and -"
"I am not having phone sex with you, Brandon," Grace said assertively.
He laughed loudly. "Come and visit me in New York," he said.
"No," Grace said emphatically.
"Then I'll come and visit you."
"No you won't." But a small part of her really wanted to see him and have him hold her, and kiss away the past couple of months.