Just because you have a past with someone, doesn’t mean you should have a future with them.Robert Tew
Willow Creek Carlton residence
Brendan smiled at the blonde woman who returned the gesture. She wasn’t his wife Natalie, but his once upon a time best friend and crush Elise.
He had been there for her when she hit a rough patch at the tender age of 16 due to a teen pregnancy by a guy who dropped her like a hot potato after he got what he wanted. After she had the baby, a boy she named Brentley, honoring Brendan, who helped her out a lot, he ended up spending most of his afternoons and weekends at her parents’ home, since she couldn’t leave, to do homework together and just hang out.
Eventually Brendan fell in love with her, but when he finally had worked up the courage to tell her, even sneak a kiss, she shut him down, Brendan was humiliated and avoided her. Soon after he met his now wife Natalie. It was instant infatuation, they started dating, became a couple. By the time they graduated, and went off to the same college like he had originally planned to do with Elise before she got pregnant, the formerly so strong bond between him and her had fizzled out, even though they both kept in touch via mutual friends.
Now here they were, nearly 20 years later, sitting on the floor of the patio of the house she shared with her husband and their two mutual kids, Brentley had long moved out and was married now himself. Her family wasn’t home, just her and Brendan, talking about the olden days.
“Brenny, do you ever think about back when? How things used to be, before we became adults? Before marriage, before kids. Doesn’t it seem an eternity ago, so far away?” she asked now, the tone of her voice melancholic.
“Sure, who doesn’t at our age? I mean, those were the good and carefree times. Didn’t seem like it then, but sure does now.”
“The best. You were so good to me, I don’t think I ever thanked you enough for it. Natalie is a very lucky woman. So pretty too. And your boys, so precious. Brentley and I still talk about you a lot.”
“You did thank me, even though you didn’t have to. I didn’t do it for any other reason than you were my friend and needed help.”
“Are we still friends, Brenny?”
“Sure, why wouldn’t we be?”
“Do you think we could ever go back to the way things were? The simpler times?”
“Probably not. Not with that youngest kid of mine. I swear I am raising a clone of my own father. Declan is a walk in the park compared to Everett!” Brendan chuckled.
“Oh Blaine. He was always something else. It was always so much fun at your house and you always had a way to make everything feel all right. How are your parents?”
“Both fine. They haven’t changed a bit. A little grayer, a few wrinkles but the rest is still the same. How about yours?” Brendan stiffened for a moment when Elise wrapped her arms around his neck and cuddled up closer to him, but then relaxed when he remembered that’s what they used to do back when.
“Fine. My brother Gary still lives with them, has a wife of his own now. Yeah … man, Brenny, we are getting old.” Elise sounded sad.
“Tell me about it. When I turn on the radio and our old tunes come on as ‘classics’ I want to sue the radio station. Then I remember I am 35 and just sing along and try to ignore everything else.” Brendan chuckled.
“You have gotten even more handsome than you already were. Not sure how that is even possible.”
“Oh … uh … well, you are … very pretty yourself.” Brendan stuttered surprised, her words plus her hand suddenly on his thigh made him uncomfortable.
“You think so?”
“Sure. Always have been.” Brendan confirmed politely.
“I love you Brendan!” Elise’s voice now little more than a breath.
And then it happened. In the blink of an eye Elise shoved Brendan down, was on top of him, kissing him.
As soon as he got over the moment of surprise, he pushed her off him as determined, yet gentle as he could and jumped up, taking several steps back.
“Elise, what the fuck?!” he complained.
“I am sorry, I got carried away. The memories. I should have never told you ‘no’ when we were 16. Oh I wanted you too, you were so wonderful, kind, handsome, so brilliant even back then, such a bright future ahead of you and I didn’t want you tied down to a girl with a baby by some deadbeat dad, things escalated and I lost you in that very moment in time frozen forever in my memory. I never regretted anything more in my life. Still regret it to this day! Ever since that afternoon you avoided me, then suddenly you had Natalie and the next thing I knew you were off to college. We could have had it all – together, Brendan. Maybe we still can. Maybe it’s not too late. I am 34, I can still have another baby. With you.” Elise talked herself into a rant.
“What?! Elly, snap out of it, this is getting majorly weird! What about your husband and kids?”
“What about them?”
“What about Natty and MY boys then?!”
“Nobody has to know, Brenny. This happens all the time. Almost everybody does it, at some point or another, why not us? Just you and I finally exploring the happiness we could have had, had things been different for us. Who knows, maybe you and I would be happily married now and have kids together had I reacted differently. Either way, I am not saying leave Natalie and run away with me. Unless you wanted to of course.”
“OK, I have no idea how to handle this, so I best go.”
“No, Brendan, please! Don’t leave! I’ll be good, I promise. I won’t do it again, please, please stay!” she begged, holding on to him.
“I am sorry, I have to. Don’t worry I won’t tell but this is as far as this can go. Bye Elise.” he shook her hands off, turned and hurried across the house to the front door.
“Brendan! BRENDAN!” Elise ran after him.
He nearly ran out the front door, hearing her crying and call after him, it broke his heart, but whatever was going on here, he couldn’t be a part of it.
But then the really tough ending came. He wanted to tell Natalie about it, but every time he tried, he got scared she’d take it bad and he’d end up losing her. That would have crushed his world. He hated having been pushed to keep another secret from Natty, now that the vampire thing was finally out on the table.
Windenburg Cameron Lake House
So a few days after the incident, he went to see his father, purposely on a night he knew his mother wasn’t going to be home until late, because of a girl’s night out with her old friends.
“Dad?” Brendan finally said.
“I have something I need your input on, something that cannot get out, you have to keep it a secret, even from mom and everyone else.”
“Oh jeeze. Do I need to upgrade us from the coffee to something harder? Or is this gonna be a ‘beer in both hands’ type of moment?”
“Nah, the coffee’s good. For now. I think.”
“All right, let’s have it, son. And yeah, I’ll keep it locked tight, kid. Spill.”
Brendan told him about the incident, when he was done, Blaine said nothing at first, just nodded.
“Okay, yeah, I get you better than you’d think. Being in my line of work, I had plenty of that, your mother doesn’t even know the half of it. I know exactly how you feel. The good news is, you did the exact right thing. The bad news is, you just lost a friend. A woman scorned … not a good environment. Mark my words, if you ever find yourself alone with her, run. The next time she’ll make sure you won’t get away smelling of roses.”
“Ooof. Staying away is going to be complicated. I meet the crew every so often, they all know Elise, she’s part of it and we cannot not invite her. Especially since I cannot tell anyone why.”
“Nah, that’s fine, as long as you can avoid being alone with her. Never offer to drive her home or something.”
“So this happened to you? Anyone I know?”
“Why do you think I have such a hard time with Penny, your mom’s friend? And Joaquin Le Chien. And Lilith, although that’s probably no secret.”
“Penny?! Oh shit!”
“Yup. But no worries, she tried to get into your mom’s pants too. I walked in on that drama, thought your mother would have a heart attack to find her bestie is actually bi and into her. No worries, having kids and getting married to that sleeping pill Ulysses has put a lid on it.”
“Look, what probably happened is one of two things, or a combo. Elise realized she’s not getting younger, no longer the steaming hot roll fresh off the cookie sheet that everyone fights over, but the kind you prefer to dunk in your soup if nothing else is forthcoming. Or the romantic spark with her husband is running on eco-mode. Either way, when she saw you, it took her back and she remembered the good ole days, thought she could jumpstart her lame days by jumping you. Not unheard of. But don’t you go for it, kid. Don’t you turn into your sister. I can only handle one of you doing that type of shit.”
“You kidding? I am long over her and I and I love Natalie more than my own life. Think it’s safe to tell Natty about this? I hate keeping it from her.”
“Well, way I see it, there is nothing TO tell, so why worry Natty? It would just leave a bad aftertaste with her if you ever go to meet your old friends again without her, leaving her to wonder what may happen. There is no good that could come out of it, and I wouldn’t consider this as keeping something from her. So listen to your old man, get over it, learn to always be careful around old flames, especially once they start hopping down memory lane with you, wondering what could have been. That is always a precursor of things that probably didn’t happen for a reason then, and most likely should be kept holstered now. So, quit worrying and let’s raid that fridge, your mother premade dinner since she’s out tonight. I am getting hungry and you know you don’t like me much when I am hungry.”
“Sure don’t! I’d go cook a five course meal before I deal with the hungry version of you, dad.”
“Now you sound like your mother, kid.”