I just get home from work when José buzzes up to me. "Dex is here."
My heart leaps into my throat; just when I was losing hope. I can hardly believe that I'm about to get everything I ever wanted. I can't believe that I beat Darcy, I find myself thinking, and I wonder if Ethan's right. If I just want Dex because he's Darcy's. Was Darcy's, I correct myself.
But that can't be true, not when upon hearing that he was here to see me, here to tell me that he broke it off with Darcy - because I did tell him not to talk to me otherwise - I promptly begin imagining our life together. Our house, our kids, our jobs - because I feel liberated and I decide if I'm getting the man of my dreams, why not also the job of my dreams?
I hear a soft knock on the door and I glance in the mirror checking my hair and straightening my outfit. I pull the door open smiling widely, but when I see the expression on Dex's face my smile immediately drops. He looks somber, like he's delivering a death notice, not like a man that's finally going to be with the woman he loves.
"Come in," I say briskly, gesturing to the couch.
He mumbles a thanks and I wonder when we started feeling awkward around each other. I don't like it, I don't like it at all.
We sit on my couch in silence for a moment.
"So, I'm guessing you're still engaged then?" I say, because I don't want to beat around the bush anymore. It's time to finally get this out in the open.
I suppose it's my own stupid fault for thinking that anyone would choose me when they could have Darcy. It's probably also karma coming back to kick me in the ass for sleeping with my best friend's fiancé. Yup, you definitely deserve this, Rachel.
And then he starts in on his speech.
"This has been a really hard decision, I really do love you. I just can't do this to Darcy." I find that I hate hearing her name on his lips now. "I didn't mean to lead you on." Didn't mean to lead you on. The words echo in my head, the way he says it makes it seem like our relationship was all in my head, as if he hadn't been the one to utter those three blasphemous words first. He's still talking, about how he can't do this to Darcy or her family: that he cares about her too much. Cares about her? Does he even love her? I wonder, but of course I'm too afraid to ask.
"I'm really, truly sorry Rach," I hate that he shortens my name, how dare he call me 'Rach' when he's breaking my heart? It detracts from the gravity of the situation. "I'll always love you," he's saying and something in me snaps.
"Stop," I say, cutting him off.
He looks surprised by my interruption. "What?"
"Stop saying that! Stop saying you love me. Is that supposed to make it easier? Like 'Hey Rachel, I know I'm breaking your heart, but at least you can carry with you the knowledge that Dex Thaler loved you. That oughta make you feel pretty special.'" I register the hurt in his eyes and I know I'm being a bitch, but I'm sick of being Rachel the pushover, the girl that never sticks up for herself. I'm tired of my own passive aggressive bullshit.
"Rachel, please, it's not like that," he's looking at me pleadingly, as if begging me to let him off the hook. To tell him 'It's okay, Dex, you go run along and be happy with Darcy.' But I wasn't going to allow him that dignification.
"What is it like then, Dex?" I demand.
"I care about Darcy too much to do this to her."
There he goes again saying how much he cares about her.
The words were out before I can stop them. "Do you love her?"
"What?" he asks, playing dumb.
"Darcy. Do you love her?"
He shifts uncomfortably on my sofa. "She's my fiancée, Rach," He's dancing around the subject, not giving me a proper answer.
"Are you in love with her?" I say it slowly enunciating each word.
I tell myself I can handle this if he's in love with her. If he's in love with her and he just can't bear hurting her like this. It would still hurt like hell, but I could understand it. He would just be being the good guy I know him to be.
But if he doesn't love her.. I would have to admit that he isn't who I thought he was, that he was doing this out of fear, that he was settling. Hillary would be right, he would be a coward.
"No," he admits, looking down at his shoes.
I feel the air rushing out of me and I realize I've been holding my breath.
"You should go now, Dexter." There if he wants to call me 'Rach' two can play at that game; I never call him Dexter. I look into his eyes and I know he doesn't miss the subtle taunt.
He gets up without saying anything and heads to the door. As he's leaving I can't resist one final gibe.
"Bye Dexter, have a nice life with the woman you care about so much." And then I slam the door in his face before he can respond. I know it's juvenile, but it feels like some small measure of retribution.
I go into my room and crawl under the covers of the bed that Dex and I once shared and finally I let the tears fall.