CHAPTER 4

Even though I had so much that I should've been doing - considering I was getting married in 6 days - I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed. Luckily my mom was taking care of the wedding planning since I had enough to focus on with work and packing up my house. Instead of doing anything productive, I just kept replaying everything that happened last night with Hunter over and over again in my head. I still couldn't believe that Hunter had kissed me like that.

My feelings were ping ponging everywhere on the emotional spectrum. I went from feeling mad, to shocked, guilty, nervous, and eventually even a little giddy as a faint smile appeared across my face when I thought about how I felt with Hunter's lips scorching mine. Hunter did everything with such passion, and his kissing was no exception. He sure knew how to make a woman feel incredible, and I knew it first hand from experience. And somewhere in the midst of everything, my mind wandered back 3 years to the amazing night we spent together. I pulled up the covers up to my neck and lost myself in the memory.

I spent a little time daydreaming, and then brought myself back to reality. Having Hunter kiss me and profess his love for me was everything I had ever wanted, but the timing couldn't be any worse. I was feeling very conflicted and couldn't believe the irony of the situation. I had spent years alone, with Hunter platonically by my side, and now I suddenly found myself with 2 men competing for my heart. In fact, I was alone just last week! It was no wonder why they didn't really like each other, and I also realized that Alex had been right when he blew up Friday night over what Rick had said to him. It had been more than I realized, when Hunter told him that he loved me.

'Follow your heart' - those were some of the last words that Hunter said to me. I kept hearing him repeat them over and over again in my head. Too bad I didn't exactly know what my heart was telling me anymore. I had suddenly found myself at a crossroads.

For as long as I could remember, I had envisioned myself as a wife and a mother, and here was Alex who was willing to give me both of those things. And, Alex is a Doctor; he has a safe job. I wouldn't have to ever worry about losing another husband to a bullet. He was the safe option. Rick, on the other hand, he was a cop and there was always that risk. He had a dangerous job, and let's face it, so did I, so I couldn't begrudge him for it. It's who he was; a fearless man who would risk any and everything for something he believed in. I guess he believed in us. He took a big risk by admitting his feelings for me. He put everything on the line by telling me. He may have believed in us, but in what capacity? Hunter was definitely a Cassanova-type, and never had a long-term relationship in the 6 years that I have known him. I didn't know if he ever wanted marriage, and based on a conversation we had 5 years ago, I didn't think he wanted kids either. Me on the other hand, I wanted those things, and truth be told, I'm 33 years old. I'm not getting any younger and I could hear my biological clock clicking, and it was getting louder with each passing day. But, with Rick, there was the passion. I never felt passion in such a way before. When Rick kissed me, it was like time stood still. Nothing else mattered. When we slept together, it was the most magical night of my life. But, he was the reckless option. I had suddenly found that both my heart and my head were competing for control. I felt my head telling me to marry Alex, and my heart was dangerously close to throwing caution to the wind and telling me run to Rick – even though with Rick, there were no guarantees. I was lost, and there was no one I could really talk to about it, and time was running out.

Monday morning

The rest of the weekend was a blur and before I knew it, it was already Monday morning. Even though I had no business doing so, I had spent most of my Sunday in bed. I was tired from the night before and stressed out over everything that happened with Hunter. I was genuinely confused about my feelings, and it didn't help matters that I didn't hear from Hunter at all yesterday, even after I called and left him 2 messages. It would have been 15 messages if I counted the 13 other times I tried calling him, but hung up before the answering machine came on. I knew he had a family thing in the afternoon, but I thought that he would have at least called me back after he got home, but he didn't.

I was so thankful that my mom graciously offered to handle the wedding planning since I had enough going on. With the exception of a quick visit with the seamstress for my measurements for my dress, I left the rest of the details to my mom. I can't believe I am getting married in 5 days, and after Saturday night's events, I already sort of felt like an adulterer.

I rolled into work early, at around 7am, mostly because I couldn't sleep last night, and the other part of me wanted to get in before Hunter did. For some reason, I wanted to be there first and tie up some loose ends before he came in. I reasoned with myself that it would somehow be better if I was there first, even though I didn't know why that would be the case. My heart and my mind were racing. I was extremely nervous and anxious to see him and I couldn't focus on anything else. We didn't leave things too well between us on Saturday night, and hadn't talked at all since, and I really wasn't sure how today was going to pan out.

Hunter strolled in at a few minutes before 8am and proceeded to sit down at his desk without so much as saying a word to me. That was a first. He had never done that to me before. This was the beginning of the end, I thought.

"Hey." I offered as a way to break the ice.

"Hey." He said back to me, evenly, while sorting through the stack of manila folders on his desk. Never once did he make eye contact with me.

It had suddenly become very chilly in the precinct, which was quite something considering it was already about 80 degrees outside. I decided to just leave him alone for now. Obviously he wasn't ready or willing to talk to me just yet, and this wasn't exactly the best place to do so anyway, so I decided to just let it go.

About 30 minutes later, Hunter hastily got up from his chair, grabbed his jacket and walked over to my side of the desk. "I'm gonna go and see Sporty and then follow up on a couple of our leads on Collins."

"Do you want me to go with you?" I asked, even though I already knew what his answer was going to be.

"No, its ok. You stay here and catch up on paperwork. I'll fill you in later."

"You sure?"

"Yeah. Besides, I'm sure you've got enough to do, and you probably need to clean out your desk too, right?" His expression showed a hint of sadness even though he was mainly trying to hide it under a tough exterior.

"Ok." I said reluctantly with a sigh. "Can we talk later?"

"Later? I can't. I have plans tonight. I'll try to be back before you leave today, if not, we'll talk tomorrow."

He smiled faintly and just like that he was out the door, and I was left to tackle a mountain of paperwork on my own. This was definitely very strange to me. We always did everything together. I knew our days as partners were numbered, but I didn't expect our 6 years together to come to a screeching halt like this. This was not at all how I wanted our partnership to end.

I spent the day at my desk finishing up about dozen reports, and before I knew it, it was 5pm and there was no sign of Hunter. Suddenly my desk phone had rung, and it was him. He apologized for not getting back in time and reminded me that he had dinner plans tonight, and that we'd catch up tomorrow. 'Dinner plans?' I thought to myself. I wonder with whom? I sensed that it was with a woman, since Hunter never really made 'dinner plans' with the guys, but I didn't know for sure. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that his dinner plans usually included me, so this was definitely odd to me. I was starting to hit me that I was already on the outs. Even though I had no 'right' to be upset, the thought of him having dinner plans with another woman, infuriated me. Wow, he had moved on just like that, didn't he? I thought to myself as I felt a twinge of sadness come over me.

I left the precinct and drove myself home. I was in a fog. Once I got home, I threw all of my stuff down on the coffee table and headed for the kitchen. I opened the freezer and thankfully found a meal from one of my 4 favorite food groups and popped it into the microwave. I grabbed a bottle of pinot from the fridge and poured myself a hefty glass of it and sat down at the kitchen table with my head in my hands.

My thoughts were still all over the place, and I wasn't sure what to do anymore. I thought I was happy with Alex and despite the whirlwind that the past week and a half was, it was what I wanted – marriage and the promise of children one day. But, Rick had suddenly thrown a monkey wrench into everything with his confession and with that kiss – which I couldn't seem to get off of my mind. He was giving me something else to think about, and boy was I thinking about it! Although, based on today's events I wasn't so sure how he felt anymore. While I could admit to myself that I did love him, I couldn't seem to get past the fact that he waited so long to tell me how he really felt. Didn't he know how I felt 3 years ago? Couldn't he tell? Or, what about 3 months ago, when I invited him in for a 'coffee and whatever else happens' do-over? Couldn't he at least tell then? He wanted nothing to do with me then, so why now? What changed? As much as I was perplexed over what might be going on in his head, I still couldn't figure out what was going on in mine.

I felt like Rick was avoiding me like the plague. The fact that it had been 2 full days and I still hadn't been able to talk things out with him was making me feel very unsettled. I didn't have much time to figure things out. I knew that he was out tonight and that really bothered me. Why was I bothered by him going out? He's entitled to live his own life, just as I am entitled to live mine. The reality was, I was leaving in a few days - 6 to be exact - and then we'd both be off living our own lives, apart from each other, every day. It was really starting to hit me that everything was going to change completely. I was losing grip on everything that was mine, and soon I would have a brand new life, with a brand new husband, in a brand new house, in a brand new country. I looked around at my house, my walls, my furniture, and suddenly it hit me that everything that I knew was soon going to be just a memory. I felt like I was suffocating, and I wanted to throw up.

(continued….)