Xavier Cold

Page 44


He grins and his perfectly white teeth practically sparkle as he runs his fingers through the strands on the top of his head. “Thanks. It’s the longest it’s been in years. My father hates it.”
I laugh, knowing that Jorge’s father is the pastor of my family’s church and has some pretty strict rules when it comes to the appearance of his children. Jorge rebelling a bit with the hair has to be getting under his skin.
Jorge reaches down and opens the door for me. “Ready?”
I nod and slide inside the seat.
Jorge puts the transmission in drive and we set out onto the busy downtown Seattle streets, making small talk until we pull up next to a fancy looking steak house, where Jorge gives his keys to the valet. He extends an elbow to me as we head inside.
The place is posh, dressed head to toe in expensive looking curtains and table linens, and it’s clear it will cost a pretty penny to eat here.
The hostess dressed in a white button-down shirt and black vest smiles at us from behind a podium. “Welcome to Alma Maria. Name on the reservation?”
“Elizondo.” Jorge’s name rolls off his tongue with ease.
The woman nods after scanning a list of names. “Ah, yes. Here you are. Elizondo, table for two. Right this way.”
Jorge pulls out my chair when the hostess stops at a small table and lays thick, book-like menus down for us. “Enjoy.”
Jorge slides into the seat across from me and unfolds the white cloth napkin onto his lap.
Before we even have a chance to speak, a man approaches the table with a white towel draped across his forearm and is holding a bottle of wine. “Good evening. I’m Matthew. I’ll be your waiter tonight. May I start you off with a sample of our finest house wine?”
“Absolutely,” Jorge says as he slides his empty wine glass toward the edge of the table.
“And for you, miss?” the man asks and begins to tip the bottle to pour some for me, but I quickly hold my hand over the glass’s opening.
“None for me, thanks. Can I just have water instead?”
“Not a problem, miss. I’ll have that right out to you.”
He disappears, and once he’s out of earshot, I glance up at Jorge who is watching me suspiciously. “No wine? I figured now that you were away from Simon, you’d be partying it up.”
“Being able to drink and have fun isn’t the reason I ran away from home, Jorge.”
He licks his lips. “Was it being engaged to me then that freaked you out?”
“No . . . yes . . . I mean, it wasn’t you per say, but the idea of being with someone who I didn’t have a fire with scared me.”
He raises his eyebrows and sighs. “I see.”
Suddenly, I feel bad about being so open with him. It obviously hurt his feelings. I may not be in love with him, but it doesn’t mean I want to hurt him either.
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
His brow furrows. “Then what exactly does it mean when you say you felt no fire with me?”
I rub my forehead. This is harder than I thought. I don’t like it when people are upset with me because it rattles me.
My goal in meeting with Jorge tonight was to be honest with him—to eliminate any hard feelings he may have against me because I know our fathers are still close.
“I apologize for how I chose to end things with you. I didn’t mean to hurt you, but we both know deep down that we weren’t right for one another—that we were never really in love.”
“No. We were. In fact, I think I still love you despite what you did.”
“But how do you know you love me?”
“I just know.”
“That’s not a good answer,” I tell him honestly, hoping what I say next will make him understand that he simply loves me out of obligation, and not because a passion inside us pushes us together. “Did you miss me when I left?”
His face softens. “Of course, I did.”
“Did it kill you? Did it crush your soul to think we will never be together again?” That takes him off guard and I can see the wheels turning when he doesn’t say anything for a moment. “If you have to think about it, that’s how you know. If you’ve ever truly had your heart shattered, you’d know it. It’s a feeling that won’t go away.”
Jorge nods. “Sounds like you’re speaking from experience.”
My mind wanders to Xavier and how it’s been days since I’ve heard from him and how much it hurts.
“I am,” I whisper. “And getting your heart broke hurts like a bitch.”
Jorge’s eyes widen, and he nearly chokes on the red wine he was sipping. “I never expected profanity to ever come out of your mouth.”
I laugh. “I’ve changed, Jorge. Leaving Portland a few months ago has really made me grow up and see the world in an entirely different light. Growing up the way we did, it’s really sheltered us, Jorge. The world outside of the church isn’t so bad. There are a lot of different types of people in the world.”
He sighs. “Was our life so bad?”
“No,” I answer simply. “But if I’m being honest, I wasn’t happy.”
He eyes me over the wineglass. “And are you happy now?”
His question is meant to have a simple answer, but it’s still difficult for me to answer. On one hand, I’m ecstatic about the freedom I’ve gained since I left home, but on the other hand, I’m dealing with the loss of Xavier and the cruel reality I might end up being a single mother, struggling to take care of a baby all by myself. All in all, I’m happy, with a whole lot of scared shitless mixed in, but I don’t regret making the decision to leave home.
“Yes. I’m happy.”
He raises his glass to me. “Then that’s all that matters.”
The rest of our evening is far less intense. We made small talk, and he even fills me in on how Mother and Father were doing since they haven’t spoken to me in a while.
“You should visit them while you’re in Portland next week. It will mean the world to your mother to see you. She’s missing you like crazy.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Father and I didn’t exactly part on good terms.”
Jorge nods. “I heard. Your new boyfriend got in his face?”
I twist my lips. “That’s not exactly what happened, but yes, they did have some heated words. But Xavier wasn’t wrong for standing up to Father.”