Friday 1:30pm, Westview Park
She’d managed to do it again. She wasted time and feelings on someone who didn’t care about her at all. Usually there were signs that she simply chose to ignore– sudden busy-ness, always having a lame excuse as to why they didn’t show up, becoming more sensitive, nitpicky, and argumentative– she knew the relationship was coming to an end, and, depending on the person, she would either bow out or try harder. One way or another, the lights dimmed and the curtain fell whenever she opened her heart. And it was currently crushed under the weight of grief Corbin had dropped on her.
Why had she taken such a dangerous chance? She was perfectly fine living in unrequited love for Matteo. In some twisted way, she continued to chase after Matteo after he was in a relationship with Avie because he was unattainable. She could have all the lovey dovey feelings with a dash of drama without ever having to actually be vulnerable, share her heart, or commit to anyone. She never had to actually care about Matteo; she only had to act like she did. Of course, she really had cared for Matteo. Who wouldn’t? He was wonderful. But, she had never loved him in a way that he deserved; just the way that satisfied her in the moment.
Evelyn leaned her head back to stare up at the clear blue sky. The weather was warm and sunny today. Finally, a lovely spring day. After her workout, she’d come to Westview park which sat across the street from Zigby theater to enjoy the afternoon. Opening night always made her nauseous as frazzled nerves jittered her every breath. Add to that the constant troubling thoughts about Corbin, and Evelyn was about to fall to pieces. She had to get herself together before 4:30.
She wanted to call him. To force him to explain himself. He was usually so sweet to her and then out of nowhere he was calling them both stupid and uncaring. She had hoped it was the night that had gotten to him. His family wasn’t pleasant to be around and he was obviously emotional torn when she’d seen him by the pool. She figured he was taking his frustrations out on her, and while she didn’t appreciate it, she understood that he didn’t mean it.
Corbin’s demons were deep and many. He did his best to hide them, but Evelyn could see them surface. When he was quiet, or when something he saw or heard took him to a place where she couldn’t follow. Guilt, anger, and pain gave his heart no rest. He wouldn’t say where they came from, but she was willing to wait until he was ready. There was so much to him and she would have to take the good with the bad.
At first glance, Corbin appeared to have little regard for others’ feelings. They first met in September last year while Matteo and she were planning a birthday party for Avie at his apartment. Corbin had proclaimed her “Avie’s clone” that day which made Matteo laugh and Evelyn angry. She wasn’t really insulted so much as humiliated. It was true. She had tried to model herself after Avie since that was the type of woman Matteo was attracted to. Not only did Corbin immediately see through it, but because of him Matteo knew it, too.
She was spending more time with Avie because that meant she could spend more time with Matteo, but that forced her to be around Corbin. He never called her by her name, it was always “Clone”. He teased her and the only time he seemed to respect her was when she accidentally said or did something that was “Evelyn” not “Avie”. The whole cycle made them dislike each other even more– he didn’t like that she was fake and she didn’t like him pointing it out.
In some ways, having Corbin around wasn’t as bad as she made it out to be. It was better to have a fourth person there than to be the third wheel. Since Corbin usually avoided them, it was nice when Matteo convinced him to hang out if only to not have to endure the lovebirds alone. But then Avie and Matteo would sneak off together leaving her alone with the obnoxious asshole who was just as unhappy in her company. That’s when the gloves came off, she became “Evelyn” again, and whatever they were doing morphed into fierce competition. Who could finish their meal first, who could criticize the movie they just watched the best, who could make the most origami swans out of paper napkins, how many waters they could order before the server thought it was weird, and so many other dumb things.
Whatever they did was better than going home to do nothing. Those times were fun. Loser had to do something ridiculous for the winner like sing off-key in public or find one stranger who they could convince to bow down and call them “your highness” or whatever stupid punishment they could think of.
The reality was they got along great when one took the objects of their respective affection and loathing out of the picture. She never hated him like Avie did– like Evelyn had to pretend to when her sister was around– but she disliked him… sometimes.
In the end, she couldn’t make it through Halloween as her sister. When Avie yelled at her for not putting up decorations in Matteo’s apartment the perfect way she had specified, Evelyn had enough and exploded at her. And Avie hit back, telling her she’d never be like her or have half the good things she had. She knew the “good things” Avie meant was Matteo.
They argued and Evelyn left. What hurt the most was that she knew Avie was right. She’d never get Matteo. Pretending to be someone she was not only worked in her career.
In her rush to get out, she realized that she’d left her purse in the apartment. Her keys, money, cards, phone were all in there. She lived too far to walk home. She was debating whether it was better to risk humiliation by going back for her purse or possible robbery if she walked home, when Corbin walked out with her purse in his hand. She had been so ecstatic to see that someone, anyone, cared that she’d thrown her arms around him and called him her “hero” before thinking about it.
Corbin had laughed, “Don’t expect me to come running if you’re ever kidnapped by a fire breathing dragon. However, there is the question of my payment. A hero is usually rewarded with a fair maiden’s kiss.” He’d leaned in extremely, uncomfortably close to her before continuing. “But today I need a partner in crime.”
“It’s a serious job swindling as many goods out of people’s hands as possible. You’re going trick or treating with me!”
She hadn’t wanted to, but he convinced her. They made the sorriest excuse for a costume ever. They bought paper bags, cut out eye holes, and drew faces on them. Then went door to door to see how many people would actually give two adults candy. It was more than she would have thought. Maybe a fourth of the houses they tried. Afterward, they went back to her place with pizza and ice cream to pig out while watching horror movies all night. They made a joke that the stereotypical uptight character in the movies was Avie and rooted for the killer to bring about her, their, demise.
He’d probably forgotten all about that day. It meant the world to her, however, seeing that the person she thought cared the least actually cared the most.
After Halloween, they’d been just friends. She hung out with Corbin a lot, but they did so without Matteo and Avie’s knowledge. It was New Year’s when everything changed. She kissed Corbin at midnight. Admittedly, it lasted much longer than two platonic friends should share.
All night Matteo’d looked at her in a way that was different than how he used to. She thought that seeing her with Corbin was giving him second thoughts about his decision to be with Avie. She thought her heart beat faster because she still wasn’t over him. It might have been the alcohol and Corbin’s arm around her waist, but she didn’t consider either at the time. That’s when the idea came to her. If she were more than friends with Corbin, Matteo might realize he had real feelings for her.
It hurt, but didn’t take long for her to realize that strangely she was glad. Once she was in love with a fantasy Matteo. Now she was falling for the real Corbin. That’s what she wanted to tell him by the pool at Henry’s and in the parking lot of his apartment building. She’d known for some time but the right moment never seemed to come up and when it did, she chickened out.
Sometimes she thought he felt the same, but at others she wasn’t so sure. However, after working so hard at pursuing the unattainable, she was happy to simply relax with someone. They had plenty of time to figure themselves and their relationship out.
Evelyn leaned forward resting her forehead on her hand. That was yesterday. Right now, she was slightly grateful that she’d hadn’t said anything to Corbin. He was really pissing her off. She thought he was embarrassed by his family and needed time to think. She didn’t like the way he talked to her, but she could forgive him because he was going through a lot of emotions with his crazy family at the time.
However, Lola had not so subtly hinted that he might be embarrassed by her. His family did have a lot of money. No one had been mean to her at the dinner, but they weren’t exactly welcoming her with open arms either. Not that Corbin had helped saying she was only his date. Did he really see her as a cheap escort? Just a plaything to amuse himself before he moved on to someone in his league?
Evelyn pushed herself off the bench. She needed to move around. She started to walk down the path. Children’s laughter floated on the air like music from the playground nearby. Normally a day as nice as that one would fill Evelyn with airy cheer, but not even the bright sun could shoo the shadows away this time.
Corbin hadn’t seemed like the type to pretend, but she’d been fooled before. If it had only been sex, she would have understood. Hooking up every so often was one thing. Spending all their free time together was another. When they weren’t working they were eating, or cooking, or watching TV, or talking, or going out to amuse themselves, or in each other’s arms… he was oh-so-sweet to her. She assumed he’d cared about her. He’d acted like he wanted to be with her; that he genuinely enjoyed their relationship.
She would never assume again.
The concrete path curved and she stepped right off because she wasn’t paying attention.
The jolt made her look up. There were trees in front of her with the path going around them. This was one of the few nature spots in the city. A bike trail went into the trees which didn’t stretch very far, but gave a city dweller the impression of roughing it for a mile around the park. Evelyn’s wedges weren’t made for hiking and she began to move back to the solid concrete path.
A shadow in the trees caused her to pause. The shadow was too dark and deep to be created by nature under the bright sun. As she stared, she saw it twitch slightly. Then she could make it out. It wasn’t a shadow. A man dressed in all black with a hoodie pulled over his head stood leaning on a tree.
Her satisfaction at the realization that it was a human and not a shadow quickly gave way to nervousness. A week ago and the he would have blended in with the weather still being cold. Today, her cardigan felt too warm in the sun. This man was completely covered. He even wore black gloves and his face… she craned her neck trying to make out facial features, but could only see more shadow.
He looked like a stereotypical kidnapper on the prowl. There were young children around. He could be after one of them. Or maybe he was cold in the shade? No. She knew that wasn’t it. He was staring straight ahead.
Her gaze followed his forward position. Though the trees, across the path, to a bench. She expected to set her eyes upon a child or a nanny or jogger. Never would she have imagined that she’d be looking at Corbin. And not just Corbin, no, Corbin sitting on a bench next to a woman in deep conversation. Corbin’s face was stony serious. Evelyn couldn’t remember ever seeing him look like that. What in the world could they be talking about?
Even though she swore she’d never met this woman before, there was something vaguely familiar about her. She felt like she might have known her once a long time ago. Had she gone to high school with her? Or maybe they were on a set together once.
Instantly, she completely forgot about the watching shadow man. However she might have known this once upon a time lady in a trench coat was irrelevant as she watched the woman reach up and stroke Corbin’s cheek. Evelyn felt a pang in her stomach. To his credit, Corbin pushed the woman’s hand aside.
She didn’t know what she should do: storm off, confront him, or watch them. Well, he shouldn’t have picked such a public place. She took a few steps closer to hear them better without being seen.
Corbin jumped up to his feet and the woman followed they started to argue. He took out his phone which the woman tried to grab, but couldn’t get. Without thinking, Evelyn moved even closer.
“I’m pregnant!” The woman shouted.
Corbin stared at her with a shocked expression on his face. Evelyn felt the wind knocked out of her like she’d been punched in the gut. The woman didn’t have a belly. At least, not one that could be seen as the trench coat provided some cover. She couldn’t be too far along. Women usually told a man they were pregnant not long after they found out. Evelyn couldn’t imagine the woman being more than three months along and probably much less. That meant either Corbin had been sleeping with another woman just before getting with after he told her he hadn’t been with anyone in six months, or he was with this woman while they were together. Whether they were “officially” dating or not, he should have told her.
She had thought that he was honest with her. It could be irritating and his bluntness sometimes hurtful, but at least he told her the truth. She had appreciated that. Tact was a quality that could be worked on.
Today, she learned that the Corbin she thought she knew didn’t exist. This man was a liar. He was never her friend. He used her to get under Avie’s skin and at the first sign that her sister might move on from Matteo, he’d dumped Evelyn to move on with his life and new found career.
The way he’d looked at and spoke to this other woman showed that he didn’t much care for her either. Evelyn didn’t know what a baby would mean to him. If the new circumstance would change his mind about his relationship with this woman. But one thing she was sure of:
This time, the whole truth was going to be out there.
Note: Thank you everyone for all your patience. Now I’m gonna drop a few chapters on ya! lol :D