Oak Island Chapter 12: Boxing Day

Oak Island Chapter 12: Boxing Day

A Chapter by SweetNutmeg
"

Boxing Day

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Chapter Twelve



I stiffened in Leo's arms. He let go of me, let his hand trail down my arm and clasped my hand. I didn't know what to say. Here was another man professing love for me. He had been carrying around this love for... how long?


Leo, we don't know each other. It has been 12 years since we knew each other. I've changed, you've changed. We're different people now.” I tried to be gentle. “I like this new Leo, quite a bit, but I can't love you just like that.”


You don't have to. Just get to know the new Leo.”


We should talk about this somewhere else, not out here in the dark and the cold.” I wanted to delay, to think, to figure out what I wanted from this encounter, what I wanted for the future. All I knew right now was that I didn't know my own mind. “Let's talk about this tomorrow.”


***


Back in my new, sparsely furnished apartment, I had the time and space to think about the events of the night.


Leo could only be in love with an imaginary person, not the real me. The last time we had been intimate friends was in middle school, 12 years ago. We had certainly both changed. We had both taken on adult identities. He was an expert in his field as I was in mine. He could be authoritative and sure of himself. He was accustomed to working with other experts. As was true for me as well. We weren't kids anymore.


We both still had a sense of humor. Leo was always the jokester, entertaining me. And usually annoying me too. His sense of mischief was still in place.


But how did he relate to his intimate friends? I had changed from my middle school self deprecation and belief I was a second class citizen. But only recently. Only since Thanksgiving, really. I had escaped my mother, but in Ezra's world I actually was a second class citizen. And I put up with that for two years. I was changing right now.


In college I had ended up with jerk boyfriends pretty regularly. Then I ended up with Ezra, the biggest b*****d ever. Why was that? Why did I end up with a******s? I liked nice people. I liked nice men. But it was the self assured, arrogant men who always approached me and I fell for their initial wooing, then put up with later being treated so poorly. In fact, it seemed like any man at all could express interest in me and I would acquiesce. Walk up to me, ask me out and I invariably said Yes.


Why was that? I had done it tonight with Leo. I wasn't at all sure I wanted to be in a relationship with him. I let him kiss me anyway, despite my uncertainties and reluctance. I kissed him back though. I felt such attraction, such electricity. I hadn't felt that... in a long time. It was missing from my relationship with Ezra.


Unbidden, erotic images, images of myself with Leo, filled my mind. I pushed them away. Don't think with your crotch, Cassie. The spark was there, but was there anything else? Leo had professed his love. I couldn't have a carefree fling with him. I couldn't, in good conscience, enter into a purely sexual relationship with someone who wanted more than that.


Did I want a serious relationship right now? I just got out of one, did I want to jump back into a new one?


My head full of questions with no answers, I readied for bed, crawled in, pulled up the comforter and fell asleep.


***


I slept late and woke to streaming sunlight, feeling light and happy. Then I remembered the sticky situation I'd gotten myself into last night. But even under the uncertainties and doubts, the happiness remained. I decided to make French toast instead of my usual yogurt, fruit and cereal. I propped up my phone and plugged 'Ain't No Sunshine' into Pandora and got something cheerful by The Supremes. Ezra disapproved of my love of Motown, which made me get out my external speakers and crank it up. Ezra didn't matter any more.


At 10:30 on the dot, Leo's ringtone sounded on my phone. I cut Pandora and answered.


Hi Leo.”


Good morning Cassie. Did you sleep well?”


I guess so. I felt great when I woke up. Do you still stay up late and sleep in?”


No. Construction work, you have to be on site early, six or seven. No more sleeping the day away.”


Leo, we have to talk.”


I was thinking the same thing. Would you like to come to my place for coffee this morning?”


That sounds like a great idea. When would you like me to come?”


Now?”


I gathered my things and set out. I let my GPS guide me and then realized I could have walked. Leo lived just a few blocks away. I studied the door again as I waited for him to answer my ring of the doorbell. The glass in the door appeared to actually be original. I marveled that in a hundred years the glass had never broken.


Leo gave me a kiss on the cheek when he opened the door. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, barefoot. Upon closer inspection, the jeans were of a stylish cut, not his old battered Levis, and his shirt was fitted and in an attractive reddish color. He was busy getting out mugs and spoons and half and half as I observed this. I was still adjusting to his new hair, no longer a mess of frizz. Having curly hair myself I was impressed he had tamed his curls.


He presented me with a mug of coffee, heavy on the cream, no sugar, just the way I liked it-- 12 years ago. I had been taking my coffee black for years. I didn't mention this, just took the proffered mug. We brought our coffee back into the living room. I perched on the edge of the sofa while Leo seated himself at the far end of the sofa.


I sipped my coffee, surprised at how good it was.


This is good cup of joe, Leo. What is it?”


Kenya AA.”


I sipped some more and contemplated what might be said, what should be said.


Leo, you know I am not the person you remember from 12 years ago. I'm really not. And memory is a funny thing. I probably never was the person you remember. I'm worried you have an idealized vision of me that I can never live up to.” I noticed I was kneading the throw pillow I somehow ended up with in my lap. I put it aside.


I know you're different in the details, but I know you, your bedrock is the same. You're still the same person at the core.”


But that's not the only thing I am uncomfortable with. You are in love with me and I feel I barely know you. I can't return your feelings right now.”


Well, I can't just not be in love to suit the occasion. I can't help my feelings.” He leaned forward, serious and intense. “And you have feelings for me. Ever since Halloween. You know it.”


He was right, my electric feelings started when he tried to kiss me Halloween night. Even before that, I was happy to be around my old friend again. It felt so natural and good to be close to him. Not just in his company, but physically close to him. He had scared me by eliciting such a powerful reaction.


And here he was again, drawing sensations from me as he took my hand. He had scooted over and we were pressed together, hip, thigh and knee. Cassie,” he murmured in a throaty voice. I turned to him. “Cassie, let me love you.”


I pulled away and disentangled myself.


I'm sorry Leo. I just can't. We have such unequal feelings.”


But you do feel for me. I can tell. Tell me you don't.”


You're right, I can't deny that. But it's my body that feels, not my head and my heart.”


You could wait and see if your heart and mind follow along.”


That's what I was thinking... if we were friends, I'd have the leisure to figure things out.”


Leo looked crestfallen. “Friends?”


Can you do that, be my friend?” I regretted that kiss last night. It's hard to go backwards in relationships. “You'd have to stop trying to kiss me.” I said this with a smile.


Trying? I seem to remember succeeding.” Leo grinned.


Not every time.” I was laughing.


One for one isn't so bad,” he said. He was back to the playful Leo I loved.


Well, you'd have to stop that.”


Now he was serious. “Yes, I can be your friend, Cassie, if that's what you need right now.”


I really do. Ezra was awful and I need to regroup, after that nightmare. I can't even figure out why I was with him for so long.”


He didn't seem like a very nice guy when I met him on Oak Island, but I figured he must have something good about him, for you to be with him.”


I collected my thoughts and realized Leo probably didn't want to talk about what was so great about a guy he must have envied. Changing gears, I said, “You know, this is the first time we've really had a chance to talk since Oak Island.”


Is it?”


Well, if you don't count me falling apart and being an emotional train wreck. Twice.”


The second time wasn't really a train wreck. More like a little fender bender.”


The first time was.”


Well, yeah, a bit like a 12 car derailment, truth be told.” Leo smiled, a sweet smile I remembered from our childhood. “But I didn't mind. You can bring all your train wrecks to me.”


Here we were, talking about me again. “Well, when you haven't been watching me fall apart, what have you been up to these days?”


Work, mainly. I'm putting in a lot of hours on the hospital addition. Construction work is pretty demanding.”


But you like being an electrician?”


Oh yeah, it's challenging mentally and physically, and I'm on site all day, not sitting around behind a desk.”


How difficult is it to get a degree and a license?”


Well, school wasn't that hard. You know I'm good at math, so that was ok. But learning the NEC, I'm still working on that.” He saw my look of puzzlement. “It's the code book. You need to know it to become a licensed electrician. But this isn't very interesting. What's accounting like?”


Not very interesting. I'm good at math too, but there's a lot more than math involved. Cornell was hard to get into and harder to complete.”


That's right, you are a fancy Ivy League woman.”


We talked on about our careers, but I didn't ask about what I really wanted to know... his romantic life.


Man, look at the time,” Leo said. “No wonder I'm famished.”


How would you like a ribeye steak?”


You're kidding.”


No. I never did get one for myself, and I am still craving it. Let's go to the store, and I'll cook us a ribeye to die for.”



***


We were finishing the cheese cake I'd bought at the bakery department when my phone dinged to announce a text message. I excused myself and went to the kitchen to read it. It was from Aunt Pam. She never texted me. It was a brief message. “Call me, it's important.”


I explained the text to Leo, and he volunteered to load the dishwasher while I made my call. I heard him clattering around as I drummed my fingers on the door jamb and waited for Aunt Pam to answer.


Cassie, thank god. Your mother is asking for you. I talked her into a living will, but she won't let anyone else have power of attorney but you.”


Why? Why would my mother do this? And on the day after Christmas? Probably to give me as much trouble as possible, knowing her.


OK, I'll be there in a bit. I have to do something real quick, then I'll be on my way.”


My real quick something was saying good bye to Leo. I told him what was going on.


As I scrambled into the car, I heard him say, “Call me if you need me.” He had said this several times and I never did take him up on it, but this time, I would. 



© 2017 SweetNutmeg


Author's Note

SweetNutmeg
Thank you for reading. All comments are welcome, large or small. I am particularly interested to know if Cassie's reflections are too long or boring.

My Review

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Featured Review

I think this struck the perfect tone for Cassie. Diving headlong wouldn't have been right, and it really lets you like Leo. Patient, caring, but maybe a bit too focused on her. I like that she made an effort to get him talk about himself, it brings in some balance.

There is one part that jumped out at me: "“Well, when haven't been watching me fall apart, what have you been up to these days?”" I think this is missing a "you"? Otherwise, I really don't see anything to nitpick!

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

2 Years Ago

Thanks for the review. I fixed that little nit pick, thank you for pointing it out, You weren't arou.. read more



Reviews

ok, you talked me into another chapter before turning it off for the night daman this story is getting good.

Posted 9 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

9 Months Ago

Thank you, you are the best kind of reader and getting reviews from you is quite a treat.
"Don't think with your crotch, Cassie." LOL, I love this line! It is nice to see that Cassie is not rushing into another relationship just for the sake of not being alone. It will be interesting to see if she lets herself lean on Leo though. Another good chapter.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

2 Years Ago

Haha, I enjoyed writing that line. Thanks for reading and commenting.
I think this struck the perfect tone for Cassie. Diving headlong wouldn't have been right, and it really lets you like Leo. Patient, caring, but maybe a bit too focused on her. I like that she made an effort to get him talk about himself, it brings in some balance.

There is one part that jumped out at me: "“Well, when haven't been watching me fall apart, what have you been up to these days?”" I think this is missing a "you"? Otherwise, I really don't see anything to nitpick!

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

2 Years Ago

Thanks for the review. I fixed that little nit pick, thank you for pointing it out, You weren't arou.. read more
Hi! Me again...I saw that you updated so I thought I would check this out. To be honest I really liked Cassie's reflections, I think that they were just the right size as to not drag on, while at the same time giving the reader plenty of backstory. I love how human you make both Cassie and Leo in this chapter, it just made the whole chapter that much better for me.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

2 Years Ago

I'm so sorry I didn't see this until now. Thank you for reading and reviewing.Your feedback is helpf.. read more

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SweetNutmeg
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