Thank you so much for the first reviews! I'm surprised I even got any.

Afterglow 02


The. Train. Was. So. Damn. Packed!

I can't fucking believe it. It wasn't even rush hour! I had to wait for four trains to pass because they were just too full to get into. When I finally do get myself in, there was this old geezer who kept trying to feel up my skirt. Unbelievable!

After going up eight flights of stairs (of all the days for the elevator to be broken), I'm finally by the door of our apartment.

Despite how stupid it is, I try to think how about what Sarah said. At least I have an apartment to go back home to. At least I have meals every day of my life. At least I have friends to help me out during the tough times.

At least I have Greg.

I knock on the door and Greg answers the door almost immediately. I smile at the sight of his handsome face, then I notice that he's wearing my kitchen apron.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

He smiles and waves a spatula in my face. "Dinner!"

I get in and plop my bag on our sofa. "Is there a special occasion?"

Greg frowns, looking hurt. "It's our monthsary, remember?"

I gasp. Crap. It's the 11th of the month, which means it's the celebration of when we got together. Or at least, the day of it. Greg's always been the romantic, always celebrating the day almost every month.

"I'm so, so sorry," I say apologetically. "It's just... it's been..." I can't help but feel the tears start to well up in my eyes.

I feel Greg's hands on my shoulders. "Honey, what's wrong? Did something happen at work?"

I can't take it anymore. All the bad things that have happened today just piled up on my shoulders that I practically just started breaking down. The tears won't stop. Greg tightly wraps his arms around me as I let out all the tears. We stay like that for God knows how long.

"Wanna tell me what happened?" Greg finally asks as we're sitting down to dinner. I stare sadly at the Salisbury steak on my plate.

"I got fired," I say flatly.

He blinks. "Oh," he says rather flatly. "Well, nothing to worry about."

I look at him incredulously. "But... this is the third time this year! And I'm barely helping out around the apartment!"

Greg merely smiles. "I told you, didn't I? You have nothing to worry about."

"But-"

He playfully hits my forehead with the back of a spoon. "Stop worrying about the trivial things, Cams," he scolds. "I told you, didn't I? Everything will be fine as long as we're together. I'll take care of everything while you're still sorting yourself out, so stop worrying about things you don't have to worry about."

I quietly look down on my plate. This talk just isn't making my food any more appetizing.

"Come on, cheer up!" Greg says. "You can always try again. Don't ever give up, okay?"

For the sake of dinner, I try to put on a smile. "Yeah, you're right."

"There we go." He starts slicing at his steak when he stops midway and puts down his utensils again. He looks me straight in the eye and asks "You still won't consider what I told you last month?"

I blink at him. "Consider what?"

"You know, just being a housewife," he mumbles.

I look at him angrily. "You're joking, right?!" I almost yell. He backs away in surprise, making me tone down my voice. "I have a Culinary Arts degree, Greg. I studied for this career. I'm not throwing it away to be just… just some slave of yours."

He looks back at me with a frown, apparently hurt at what I just said. "Being a housewife doesn't mean you'll be my slave. I'm trying to give you a better life!"

Now he's the one who's practically yelling. I think I may have angered him.

"Cams, I want to take care of you," he says, almost desperate. "I want you to realize that you can live life without worrying about anything, because I'll always provide for you, whether or not you've got a career." He holds my hands in his when he notices the tears streaming down my face. "I love you so much, and I want you to live a comfortable life. If trying to find a job is making you this stressed out, then don't look for a job anymore." With a kiss on my hand, he adds. "Leave everything to me."

I stifle the cries. I can't. To leave everything to Greg is the one thing I can't do. I can't do it, because…

Greg's mobile phone starts ringing. He awkwardly looks between his phone on the table and my crying face, until he finally excuses himself and takes his phone to the kitchen with him.

I frown. He's talking to someone worriedly. Here we go again. He wouldn't walk out on a monthsary dinner, would he? Not when I'm having a breakdown.

He comes back to the table with a worried look on his face. "Cams. I'm sorry, I—"

"Work?" I try to sound indifferent. The tears have stopped by now.

He nods. "My author finally finished the final draft of her next novel. I have to take it to the office now to have it proofread. It's a bit of a crunch time, you see. I might have to sleep over at the publishing house. She barely made the deadline so..."

I put on a smile. "Want me to pack your dinner for you?"

He smiles back in relief, thinking I'm not pissed. "Yeah. Yeah, that'd be great."

I hand him his coat by the front door and see him off. "Be careful."

He warmly smiles and kisses my cheek. "I'm sorry I can't stay tonight. You'll be okay on your own?"

Putting up strong fronts get so hard sometimes, but I'm getting used to it. With a big smile, I answer. "Who do you think I am?"

He laughs and pats my head. "We'll continue this talk tomorrow when I get back, okay? Good night," he whispers as he closes the door behind him.

I stand gazing at the door, frozen for a moment. My vision gets cloudy as tears seem to be forming in my eyes again. I grab my phone from my bag and slump myself on the sofa. Without really thinking, I grab the remote and turn on the TV and start browsing through the channels blankly. When I notice that 45 minutes have already passed, I quickly dial my phone.

"Yo, Anthony."

Anthony Graham's high pitched, worried and gay voice pierces my ear. "Cammy darling! What in the world are you doing, letting your boyfriend go?!"

I frown. I knew it. "Shhh, don't be so loud. He was there, wasn't he?"

"Just 5 minutes ago. He went and picked up Ms. Cartel and they went off somewhere. Are you seriously tolerating this?!"

With nothing to grab on, I unconsciously squeeze the hem of my blouse. "So... Ms. Cartel's latest draft is actually all done? There's no deadline to catch or anything?" I clarify. It's happening again.

Anthony laughs mockingly at the other line. "Is that what he told you? The bastard! There is no deadline to catch, dear. She finished that draft weeks ago, just so you know."

I stay quiet as I feel my heart sink in my chest. He's doing it to me again.

I happen to have a lot of connections. By connections, I don't really mean friends. They're just some people I've done favors for, and they happen to owe me back favors. One of them is Lani Miles, a girl working at the red district of the city as, well, a stripper. I helped her escape from a potential rapist one time by pretending to yell for cops while the guy was trying to do her in an abandoned alley. We've kept contact since then.

Last month, she contacted me out of the blue, telling me that apparently, my boyfriend has been taking some girl to one of the nearby love motels where she works at practically almost every week. Of course, I didn't believe her at first, but then she insisted we meet up. That's when she showed me a picture of Greg, his face clear as day, with his arms wrapped tightly around some familiar girl. I just couldn't put my finger on it at the time.

Later, I confirmed from his co-worker Anthony (who I helped get into the publishing business by introducing him to Redande) that the girl in the picture was none other than Samantha Cartel, one of the authors that Greg works as an editor for.

Just last month, these two helped me track Greg and Samantha during one of their "escapades," and true enough, I saw with my very own eyes when the two entered some skanky love hotel. They stepped out roughly 6 hours later, looking quite pleased with themselves.

Anthony and Lani repeatedly keep telling me to dump Greg. To be honest, I really want to, but circumstances as they are, I can't. Greg acts like nothing's wrong, he still treats me with the same love and playful affection he's given since 4 years ago. He's caring, doting, loving, great in bed, he's taking care of our finances while we're here... I can't just leave him.

I hate to say it, but I'm dependent on him.

"Thanks, Anthony. That's all I wanted to know."

"Are you serious?!" He yells at the other line. "You've been putting up with this for a month! God knows how long this has been going on! Don't tell me you're just going to let this—"

I cut Anthony off and throw my phone to the ground.

I try to stop the tears, but they keep trickling down. I hurriedly stand up and grab a glass of orange juice from the fridge. Orange juice always keeps me happy, always puts my spirits up. Somehow it works, and the tears stop.

This is just a fling, right? He'll eventually leave her, right? Maybe, maybe once I get a stable job and we earn enough money to settle and get married, he'll leave her and stay with me for good, right?

...Right?