What You Can’t Have
True to what Zach said, I was hired… And though I wanted to question why I was hired, I kept mum. I was so sure that I flunked the interview but for some reasons unknown to me, they still decided to hire me. And it somehow boosted my ego. And that was a much-needed boost because after a few years of just staying at home, I doubted my edge. Maybe I was still smart but it had been… years. And surely a fresh graduate was a much better choice than me who chose not to continue.
But enough of that. This was me flipping on to a new page. If I wanted to make this work, I needed to believe in myself more. I believed that positive energy attracts positive outcome. I just needed to claim it.
Upon getting the official call that I was hired, I quickly went on a shopping spree. I was supposed to use my own money but then I remembered Adam’s face the last time we talked. I just… didn’t want to hurt him worse than how he’s already hurting. I knew that if I use my own money to buy my work clothes, he’d think that I was antagonizing him again. And I wasn’t. I was, like him, tired of our fights. I just wanted to be okay with him again.
So I bought clothes using his money. And as funny as it seemed, it was a way to show him that we’re fine. Maybe not completely okay but we’re headed there.
When I got home, I was surprised when I was welcomed by a burning smell.
“Is something burning?” I asked Jess who was tailing me. He was the one holding the shopping bags. He nodded. Just that. I had no idea if that was the training for ex-military officers but whenever Jess was with me, I was lucky if I got him to speak five words to me. And not that I wanted to be chit-chatty with him… but sometimes it was boring.
I followed the burning smell and I was led to the kitchen. And my jaw almost fell when I saw Adam cooking? What the hell was happening?
“What are you doing?” I asked.
Adam turned and I saw that he was also wearing an apron. I bit my lip hard enough to stop myself from laughing. He looked so cute! I had known Adam for a pretty long time already but he’d always seemed so… dignified. And he had to because he’s an image of authority and thousands of people looked up to him. And now, seeing him like this, it was just too much. I had to give my everything to stop myself from smiling but I failed. And miserably at that.
“I’m sorry,” I said in between fits of laughter. His apron was smudged with different colors that it was hard for me to figure out what the heck he was planning to cook. I mean, I, myself, was aware that I was no pro in the kitchen. But Adam was a whole new level! It looked like he wrecked havoc in the kitchen!
“What are you doing?” I asked when I was finally able to speak. I subtly wiped the tears that came out from laughing a bit too much.
“Cooking?” he said, unsure.
“You sure? It looks like a disaster here,” I said as I stepped inside the kitchen.
“I know…” he said, looking crestfallen. “I should’ve just let the chef do his thing.”
I leaned in and my forehead was in a crease while trying to figure out what that black thing was supposed to be.
“You’re cooking what again?”
“But that doesn’t look like a steak.”
He looked at me and frowned. I bit my lip to stop myself from laughing again.
“Don’t rub it in. I know I’m not a good cook.”
I shook my head and then a smile was formed on my face. I couldn’t help it anymore! He looked utterly cute!
“Adam, I am not a good cook but you are a horrible cook. There’s a difference,” I pointed out that made him frown even harder.
He was about to say something but my stomach specifically chose this time to made its presence known. I pursed my lips and pretended that my stomach hadn’t just grumbled but Adam’s face was telling me otherwise. He was enjoying this. He was so enjoying what was happening.
“Well, since we’ve established that I’m no good in the cooking department, do you want to eat out?”
I looked at him and bit my lower lip. I wanted to say—I had nothing to say, to be exact. We were in this weird place wherein we’re comfortable but because of what happened between us, I just couldn’t act like everything’s fine. It didn’t work that way… but I didn’t want to hurt him even more. Seeing Adam cry and hearing him plead made me realize that I was too cruel. I was hurting him because I couldn’t deal with the fact that his past would forever be there.
I was too immature. I knew that. But it was still there.
The stinging feeling was still there.
“Okay,” I replied.
It was there but I was also done hurting him. I just hoped that this wouldn’t do more harm than good.
ADAM HAD to change first because he smelled like burned meat. He was taking longer than usual but I didn’t want to nag him so I just went to the kitchen to get myself a glass of water. The maids were cleaning after the mess that Adam made.
“Why was he cooking?” I dared ask.
The old maid looked at me and smiled faintly. We didn’t talk too much because even after almost two years of living here with Adam, I still wasn’t friends with the helps because they had always managed to maintain a distance from Adam and I. I asked Adam about that before and he just said that that’s how things go. But I still tried to get close to them whenever I could. They’re the ones looking after our welfare, anyway.
“He heard that you got the job,” she answered.
“Because of that?” I asked.
She nodded, still smiling.
“I told him I’ll do it but he wanted to do it himself.”
My mouth went agape. I had no words. I didn’t know but learning about why Adam did all that made my heart… swell. Maybe for others it may be a small thing but I knew Adam. He didn’t do that. He was always busy. He had businesses to look after so it just didn’t make sense that he was cooking. And there’s a chef at our disposal. And I believed that Adam never tried to cook—not even when we were still dating. Not that I wanted him to. I just didn’t demand too many things from him because I knew that he’s always really busy.
And then this.
He cooked for me.
“I know it’s not my place to say but I hope you forgive him for whatever he had done. He’s trying,” she said and then left me.
He’s trying. He’s truly trying… maybe I should try, too.
“Hey,” a voice said. I turned around and saw Adam smiling at me. I smiled back at him. It used to be easy. We used to be easy. And I knew that if only I try hard enough, we’d be back to where we were before.
“Hey,” I replied.
And I promised that I’d do my part.
We went to my favorite restaurant and we were ushered inside. I wasn’t surprised when we were led to a table where we can see the beautiful skyline of Seattle. Adam knew that I loved going to this place because of the view. It was breathtaking. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed staying here in Seattle although I absolutely missed my hometown already.
“Are you gonna start tomorrow?” he asked.
“That’s good,” he said.
I knew he was having a hard time talking to me because I had been extremely difficult to him these past few days. And I couldn’t blame him if he thought that I was irrational and immature because truth be told, I was. So I promised to meet him halfway. If he’s truly trying, I promised to try just as hard.
“I’m worried, though,” I said. He looked at me, probably surprised that I was opening avenue for actual conversation. For the past few days, we barely talked… Or if we did, it would be one of those superficial talks. And this was the first time that we talked again. And it actually felt nice.
“Why? You were great at school. I’m sure you’ll be great there, too,” he said.
I smiled at him.
“Don’t be like that. You’re smart. No one can take that away from you,” he said with a reassuring smile.
“Thanks,” I replied.
“But if they’re stupid enough not to see that, always remember that you can buy your own firm,” he said and that made me laugh. “What? It’s true,” he said.
“Yeah, right,” I said. The idea of me buying my own firm was ridiculous. Even my parents didn’t have their own firm. They had to work their asses off just to make partner.
“We’re married for almost two years now and yet you still don’t believe that you’re rich,” he said.
“Because I am not,” I replied.
“We didn’t sign prenup,” he reminded.
“Yes, because you’re too blinded by love to sign,” I said, mimicking the tone of his lawyer. I could still remember how his lawyer looked so crestfallen when he had learned that Adam didn’t want to sign a prenup. He looked pissed, even! I couldn’t blame him, though. We were talking about billions worth of assets.
“What’s the use of prenup? I have no plans of divorcing you.”
And then he stared at me. Good God.
I reached for the glass of wine and drank it.
“Things may be hard now but I’m not giving up. I’m gonna see this marriage until the end, Bree,” he said and that only made me feel bad for all the things I put him through.
The food thankfully came and we ate in silence. A few minutes of silence was much needed. Adam was keen on making me feel guilty because he’s truly trying. And only a cold-hearted person wouldn’t appreciate all the things he was doing.
I wanted to enjoy the silence but I saw him stealing a couple of glances and I couldn’t help but laugh at the hilarity of the situation.
“You’re acting like a stalker,” I commented.
“You’re staring. It’s creepy,” I added. “Adam, I’m still your wife.”
“I know…” he answered.
“So why are you looking at me so weirdly?”
He looked at me and sighed. I reached for the glass of wine and drank it because his stares were making me a bit nervous. But I didn’t want to show it. I didn’t want him thinking that we’re not fine because we’re both trying. So until we’re both finally fine, we could fake it… Because I truly couldn’t hurt him anymore. I had made him cry and crumble in my arms and I wouldn’t want to go through the same thing again.
It was heartbreaking.
And it haunted me.
That how could I even hurt him when all he ever did was love me?
And all I really ever did was doubt him?
“Nothing,” he said, resigned.
“Come on. What is it?” I urged.
He smiled faintly.
“It had been so long since we… talked.”
“What? That’s not true. We talk.”
He looked at me and the sadness in his eyes was just too strong to be ignored. And it was a huge slap on my face. Was I blinded by my own jealousy that I didn’t notice that between the two of us, he was hurting worse? Because I had always put all the blame on him and all he ever did was to take everything I threw his way.
“We talk but not like how we used to,” he said and painfully smiled. “And I want that back, Bree.”
“I know. I know I hurt you and it’ll probably take more than an effort to cook for you to be able to forgive me… But promise me one thing, alright?”
I looked at him.
“Please don’t look at anybody else. Just look at me. Just wait for me. Promise me, Bree.”
The pain in his eyes.
I didn’t want to see that anymore.
So I smiled.