James was a great example of my failure in the boyfriend department.
The first time I met him, he charmed the pants of me; he practically threw himself at me when he saw me. There was wine, chocolates and flowers. Even Tisha was swept off her feet.
For the first few weeks, we were happy together, exploring our new relationship.
Slowly, but surely, things started to fall apart. Although I kept insisting I liked James, wanting to show him off to my mother to keep her off my back, I knew it wasn't going to work out. I was supposed to miss him when he was gone, to want to call him everyday when we were apart, but all I felt was the dull prick of unease. .
I sat in the cafe waiting for James to come. He'd been becoming noticeably more distant recently. Whenever we were on dates, he just hunched over his phone or left the room to talk on the phone. I looked up when I saw a man sit down directly in front of me.
I cocked my head and looked at him. Just when I was about to tell him the seat was taken, he cut in, "Are you Kate Anderson?"
I nodded my head. "What are you?" I slapped a hand over my mouth when I realized how rude it sounded.
He just chuckled, his laughter warm and comforting. "I'm Nate Parker."
I stared at him. He jet black hair spiky, his cheeks chiseled like a finely-carved statue, his lips full, the kind that twist into a cute little smirk. I continued staring at him, his piercing brown eyes bore into mine, knowing my mother would start planning our wedding if I ever brought him home.
The clearing of his throat brought me out of my daze. I snapped my gaze back to his and cleared my own throat. "Well. It's nice to meet you. I guess."
He handed me a card.
Break up artist. Nate Parker.
It was like the fog cleared up in my head.
"James hired you to break up with me didn't he?"
Nate nodded and gave me a sympathetic smile. "He wants to stay friends with you."
I scoffed, "That's not going to happen."
I had long ago accepted the fact that James and I weren't meant to be, I knew he started getting distant.
"He also said it's him-"
I lifted my hand, effectively stopping him from finishing the cliche, 'it's me not you' excuse.
"Don't even finish that sentence."
He gave me a small smirk, "You're taking this pretty well, I expected tears and tantrums."
His tone implied that he thought that our relationship wasn't strong enough if I wasn't throwing a tantrum or crying my eyes out. I started feeling defensive. "If I were to cry, I wouldn't do it in front of you. You aren't very good at this breaking up thing."
"I find relationships taxing and troublesome. There's no point starting a relationship when people are going to break up anyways."
"Why are you so cynical?" I quip at him. "Did your fiance dump you at the altar or something?"
"Bingo." He said nonchalantly.
I gasp. "Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry. I was just…"
"It's ok, it's been a while ago, I've forgotten it by now." Both of us knew he was lying, but I didn't call him out on it.
We sat in awkward silence, neither of us knowing what to do.
I finally gathered my courage to questioned him, "Did James tell you why he wanted to break up? Was he cheating on me?"
He opened his mouth to speak but promptly closed it again, as if thinking over the best way to tell me.
He expression said it all, but he gave a nod anyways. That rat bastard. I wanted to kick him, to slap him, to punch him back to Monday but I didn't. I just rolled my eyes, it was too late to attempt to salvage my feelings now. "Just tell me."
"Fine. Don't go crying in my arms later."
I shrugged, urging him to go on.
He sighed and reached into his suit jacket, he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me.
I slowly unfolded it.
Lives with her roommates, overly attached mom, workaholic...
With each reason, I felt myself slowly getting indignant. I crumple the paper in my hand. How is living with my roommates a legitimate reason to break up with someone?
I thought back to the conversation we had 2 weeks ago.
"Why are you still living with your roommates? Trez and Jenny?"
I groaned again, we've had this conversation so many times, I could practically repeat it in my sleep. "It's Tisha and Jess. They're my best friends. I don't see the problem living with them."
He'd leaned forward reaching out to stroke my hand. "Jess, I like you a lot, but I don't want to have to only be able to see you once a week because you are spending time with your roommates and not me. Don't you have enough money to have a place of your own? I don't want to have to compete with your friends."
"You're not competing. I spend the same amount of time you do when you're with your friends."
"No? I don't think that it is right for a couple to not be able to see each other often. I mean, I know that you are always busy at work, and I understand, but come on, I would like to spend time with my girl."
"I spend time with you almost every day." I almost scream in frustration. "It's you who doesn't have time for me. Everytime I call you, you're either working in the office or taking a client out for dinner. At night you're too busy hanging out with your friends to even text me back."
Angry, I decided to make my own list. I grabbed the paper napkin next to my drink and asked Nate, the tall man right in front of me who seemed to have everything a breakup artist had for a pen.
"What do you need it for?"
"Just give it to me."
When he placed his pen in my hand, I felt tingles running through my entire body. I ignored it, the tingles were probably just the anger coursing through my veins. I focused on the list.
When I was done, I handed it to Nate, "Give it to James."
He glances at the napkin, "List of Transgressions?"
"What the heck is this? Responds only when he needs me to go to events with him? Expects me to wait on him as if I was his servant? Ogles woman when I'm next to him?" He put the list back on to the table. "You want me to give this to him?"
I nodded again.
He pushed it back to me. "I can't."
I pushed it back to him. "You can."
I stared at him again, his broad shoulders rippling under his shirt as he lifted his hand to run a hand through his dark mop of hair. He groaned and shook his head.
I met his gaze again across the table, his piercing gaze doesn't express much, but hesitancy.
Shaking my head this time, I attempted to dislodge the thoughts racing through my head. I couldn't fall for this man, he was going to break my heart. He saw me as the loser whose boyfriend didn't have the courage to break up with. I stood up quickly, almost dislodging a shoulder in my haste to get away from him. I excused myself and hurried to the bathroom to get ahold of myself.
Once the door shut, I braced myself against the sink, wanting to splash the cool water on my face. I wasn't going to fall for this man, I couldn't, I shouldn't. I just broke up with James, well more like James just broke up with me, I should at least feel remorse or sadness, but I felt nothing. I didn't know how to react to the sudden break up. I wanted to hate James, I wanted to get revenge, but it was like my brain was telling me to let it go. As my mother liked to say, "There is no need to run for a man or a bus, in both cases, another one will come in 15 minutes." Well at least she used to say it before she started getting desperate for grandbabies.
I sighed and gave in to the urge to splash water on my face. By the time I walked out of the bathroom, I had convinced myself that I didn't need James and I would be fine by myself.
I smiled, trying to seem as if he didn't affect me at all.
"Have dinner with me."
I almost spat out my coffee. "What?"
"I'm asking you out." Nate's lips lifted into a boyish smile.
"No," I stared at him, "you just broke up with me."
"I didn't break up with you, James did." He placed his hand on mine. He tightened his grip on my hand when I tried to withdraw my hand. "It's his loss."
"Do you do this all the time?" I clarified when I saw his confused look, "Flirt with all the women you break up with."
"No, this is the first time."
"So you're a virgin." I blinked rapidly and slapped myself inwardly. "Wow… That came out wrong." I mumbled to Nate's loud guffaw.
"Yes, I am a virgin in this situation." He hid a smile behind his fist.
I groaned against my hand. "If I go out with you for dinner, will you not bring it up again?"
He gave me a cheeky grin. "You can't go back on your word now."
I waved him off. "You bring the list to James. I'll go with you then."
"Does Saturday work for you?"
"We can meet at Madison Square at 3."
"Fine." I moved to put down the date on my phone but froze, "I thought you wanted dinner."
"Late lunch is the same thing."
I rolled my eyes, "Yes, it's totally the same thing, it's just like calling heels and sports shoes the same thing."
He laughed again. "Sorry, I'm a first timer at this flirting thing."
I dismissed his comment, "Ha! That couldn't be true."
"I don't, woman just flock towards me."
I rolled my eyes, "I'm amazed at your ego. Do you ever turn off the ego? Or is it like the Niagara falls, where you couldn't turn it off even if you needed to?" Before he could reply, I stood up, "I'm gonna go now."
"Kate," he slowly sounded out my name, as if he was saying it for the first time. I turned around to look at him and cocked my head. "I'll see ya tomorrow."
I grinned back at him, weirdly looking forward to tomorrow's date. "Bye."