Getting Over Edie Ch. 02

bynerd4music©

His anger was bubbling now, little beads of tension breaking the surface of his boiling rage. He'd never EVER hit a woman, but this chick was bordering on ridiculous.

It was as if she finally sensed his mood. "Shit. I'm sorry. I really do have a problem with my mouth. I really wasn't trying to offend you. It's just..." her pause was significant, as if she was struggling to find the right words. "Tony told us what happened with your ex. Your behavior, the twitchiness...it all makes sense."

Grady wasn't appeased. "Is that how you really talk to people, just come out swinging at their emotions? It's bullshit."

Her emotive eyes narrowed. "Listen I said I was sorry. There's no need to get your panties in a bunch."

Grady chuckled incredulously. "Dude. Did you really just back an apology with another insult? You're unbelievable."

Arden held up her hands. "Jesus, you're touchy. Okay little girl, how about I get your dinner. Whatever you're having, it's on me."

"No need to make up for it now. I think I'm fully insulted." He turned to walk away but found she had somehow managed to block his path. She was a good six inches shorter than him, but she was quick. "So not only are you incredibly rude, you're also stealthy like a ninja."

She rolled her eyes. "I really do apologize. I'm kind of blunt. It's a terrible habit."

His eyebrows raised in surprise. "Kind of?"

"Okay more like excessively so." Arden held out her hand. "Truce?"

Grady ignored her hand, but nodded in agreement. "Truce. Now what's this about buying my dinner?"

"Well you're kind of a douche but I don't renege on promises." Stepping past him, she made her way to the counter. "Pick up for Finch," she said. "Oh and Kade."

The man behind the counter nodded, heading to the back and returning promptly with two brown paper bags. Arden dug through a large, bright green purse on her shoulder, grabbing her wallet. She handed a few bills to the man, who rang up the purchases and handed her back the change.

Arden dropped a fiver into the large tip jar on the counter before handing Grady his bag. "There you go, champ" she said with a smirk. "And I really am sorry."

Grady shrugged. "No issue. I'm a little hard to deal with these days."

Her eyes softened, something that wasn't lost on him. Grady bristled; he didn't need or want anyone's pity. "Well, I live right down the street. If you wanna come up and share a meal. We can talk."

"No thanks. Gotta go." He held up his bag. "Thanks for the dinner." With a wave, he turned and headed back out into the frosty New York air.

********

He could have been a little nicer; after all, she paid for his meal. But lately being nice, pretending that life wasn't a carousel of shit exerted too much fucking effort. It was so much easier to be numb, to act as if shit didn't phase.

Being nice just didn't feel right. It was too normal. Grady just wasn't ready to accept normal; it meant he would finally have to accept that she was really gone. And as miserable as he was, he just wasn't ready to do that.

Thirty minutes later he was back in his apartment. His belly was full of tortellini goodness, but he still felt empty. He sat in front of his laptop, nursing his third beer. On the screen was an email from Nell, telling him to be in her office ten o'clock Monday morning. The message was short and to the point. Grady wasn't sure if that was a good or bad sign.

Taking a long swig of beer, he decided he didn't give a shit either way. He was aware of how his behavior was progressing. His nonchalant attitude was bordering on comatose but he couldn't turn it off. Once again, it was too much effort to care.

With a heavy sigh, he lit another cigarette.

Closing his eyes, his mind wandered to thoughts about Edie. This is what he hated, yet he loved it at the same time. The silence and solitude allowed him the miserable conditions for his overworked imagination and memory to torture the shit out of him. He was a glutton for punishment; these forays into days gone by left him feeling worse than before but he couldn't shut his mind off.

It was one of the reasons why he craved solitude. There was no way he could zone out properly in public without someone questioning the reason for his behavior. He didn't need a fucking pity party; he just needed to mope and brood without someone all up in his shit every five minutes.

Grady reclined in his chair, draining his beer.

As the bottle rolled to the floor he took a heavy drag off his cigarette. His mind moved to happier times; being with Edie always felt like a twenty-four/seven high. Now that his drug of choice was gone, his body was in severe detox.

He closed his eyes, his breathing deep and even. He almost wished he had something a little stronger than the cigarette.

God, he missed her. Maybe it was lame, even a little girly. But he couldn't help it. With his eyes closed he swore her scent still lingered in the apartment; she always wore the same perfume, a heady mixture of something akin to gardenias and peaches.

It drove him crazy.

He could bury himself in that scent, the fragrance a Pavlovian trigger. He would wake up with her snuggled close, his nose tingling with the smell and his dick already hard. She would snuggle closer, a playful smile on her full lips as her hand snaked under the sheets to stroke his erection.

Grady groaned. He couldn't think of the sex. Not tonight. It always led to the same place. He felt like an incredible perv, jerking off to past memories of an ex. He was chasing the ghost of a good thing and when he came, it was an empty, sinking feeling that left him worse off than before.

He was driving himself crazy.

Grady rose from his chair and stubbed out his cigarette. Looking at the clock he chuckled bitterly. It was barely ten o'clock. He'd always been a night owl, preferring the rush of the late night action to the busy humdrum of the morning hours.

He was a rare breed—he didn't have a problem with early morning hours, he just liked nighttime better. His brain was always able to function in the dark than in the daytime.

Edie hated that he kept late hours. She insisted he was interrupting her beauty sleep on purpose, as if somehow he was secretly plotting to keep her from looking her absolute best for her photo shoot the next day.

"Goddammit Grady!" she would whine, her accent detectable in her irritation. "You know I have a six o'clock call time!"

He would chuckle softly, even as she glared from the doorway, hands on her slender hips, clad only in tiny sleep shorts and one of his college t-shirts. He would feel bad, thinking about her trying to sleep while he dicked around with Tony and Benny playing Call of Duty on Xbox Live.

The amount of noise the three of them made on their respective headsets was enough to drive even the most patient girlfriend insane. "Sorry baby," he'd say giving her a sad puppy dog look. "I'll try and keep it down."

She would try to keep her gruffness intact but he knew she couldn't resist the puppy face. The corners of her luscious mouth would lift in a wide smile and all was right with the world. "If you're going to be up, you might as well keep me company."

The look she shot him was signature Edie—sly, yet so unbelievably sensual. She was the master of sexy glances, her playful pouts so coy yet pulsing with fiery sexuality. It was enough to send him into lustful frenzy. His woman wanted him, and he was only too willing to oblige.

He would always choose her over his mates in that case.

With a groan, Grady tried to move his thoughts on a more productive track. He was treading dangerous water, thinking about Edie in that way.

It'd been a while since sex (okay maybe more than awhile; more like months). At first his brain couldn't really process the thought of sex since depression had settled in a taken root. Now it seemed that was the only thing on his mind.

Not like he was in the best shape for sex. He didn't feel attractive whatsoever. Truth be told he felt like run-over shit most days. It was a fucking task dragging his worthless ass out of bed every morning and an even bigger deal to take a damn shower. It wasn't sexy; he wasn't sexy. He was just downright pathetic.

Grady shut his eyes, trying to block the disgust now washing over him. He was annoyed that this was such a big damn deal. It was just fucking ridiculous.

Who was he fooling? She was a big damn deal. For the past year and a half she'd been his entire life. And now she was gone. And he wasn't sure what the hell to do.

********

"Well I hope you know what you're getting yourself into."

Grady could feel Nell's eyes bore into his forehead. He was poring over the mock-up of his article. Rolling his eyes, he nodded. "I'm sure Nell. I want to run this."

He finally glanced up to meet her gaze, expecting her normal frosty emerald-hued glare but was shocked to see a touch of warmth in her eyes.

"Grady, you're an exceptional writer and a piece like this will have women all over America falling for you. It's a very honest and heartfelt article but I won't deny it's quite personal. So I will ask you again: are you sure you want to do this?"

Grady chewed on his bottom lip. It was a very open article, but he didn't think it was that serious. He didn't see why Nell was so worked up.

"I'm sure Nell. Trust me: I'm past the part of the potentially humiliating backlash that may arise from this. I've got it under control."

Nell nodded, returning to her normal inquisitive stare behind her white-framed glasses. "Well, contingent on the success of this piece, I'd like for you to continue the story."

Now that threw Grady for a loop. He stared back at her, blue eyes wide with shock. "Wait, what? Seriously?"

She shrugged nonchalantly. "Grady I am one-hundred percent serious. You said you didn't have a problem with this kind of writing, so I think continuing the story is the best thing. It's actually quite innovative.

How many men get the opportunity to write about their breakups in a women's forum? I mean really write about it. As women we assume that men get over love and heartbreak as quick as a finger snap. It will be interesting to show females that not all men think exclusively with their dicks."

Grady was taken aback. It was one thing to write a short column about his break-up, but an entire series? Was he really ready for his business to be all out in the open for all of New York to read and discuss?

His mind briefly went to Edie. How would she feel about all of this? It was one thing to write a one-time piece but a full series required dredging up details about their relationship.

Grady supposed she wouldn't be too happy. He quickly shook those thoughts from his head; so what if she wasn't happy? She clearly had moved on from whatever they had. Her interest in his interests was no longer relevant.

Nell's gaze was sharp and expectant. "Okay. Sounds good" he replied with mock confidence.

She nodded, her bright red lips cracking something resembling a smile. "Good. We shall see how readers respond to the piece. Then we'll extend it. Hopefully."

Bending her head, she motioned him to leave with a wave of her hand. Grady smirked; Nell was completely no-nonsense but instead of despising it, he actually liked her abrupt attitude.

Everything about her oozed fierce, from her impossibly high cheekbones and signature designer lipstick in bright red, to her white-blonde hair in a large chignon at the base of her neck. She was strict, harsh, and at times overbearing but she was also a brilliant businesswoman.

She wasn't afraid to butt in, which was why Grady was in her office early as hell on a Monday. She called him at seven, indicating in a tone which brooked no argument that he needed to be in her office in less than an hour. He hightailed it out of bed, still feeling like crap from all the heavy food and cigarettes and dressed quickly.

He was kind of irritated that he had to be in the office on his normal day off, but he supposed it was a good excuse to get out of the apartment and actually be a productive member of society. Rising from the chair, Grady excused himself before quickly shuffling out of her office.

It was only a little after eight, but the day felt like a wash. Grady was a little unsure what to do next. He didn't feel like going home and being a total lazy-ass. It was too early to veg out at a bar. Grady settled for going to his cubicle. He strolled lazily to his corner cube.

It wasn't much, but he was lucky to secure a space next to a window. The weather allowed him the opportunity to stare out at the sights and lose himself in the outside world. He had just sat down when a bright red cap of hair peered over the top of the cube wall.

"Hey Grady!" a breathy voice bellowed. "Fancy seeing you here so early."

Grady glanced up as the red hair ducked out of sight before reappearing at the entrance of his little space. It was his cube-mate Gia. He smiled tightly, the action resembling a grimace more than 'happy to see you' face.

"Hey Gia" he said, trying to remove any trace of irritation. Gia had a tendency to be a loudmouth. At a petite five-foot-five what she lacked in height she made up in mouth and personality.

Her fiery red hair drew looks, her wide, bright blue eyes demanded attention. She had a killer figure, stacked and curvy in all the right places. Grady totally gave her a second glance when he first started working at EDGE that is, until Benny informed him that he hooked up with Gia ages ago and she was a Stage Five Clinger.

Indeed, when Gia discovered the connection between the two friends she made it her mission to bug the hell out of Grady whenever she thought about Benny, which apparently was quite often.

Grady wasn't in the mood for a Benny Q&A. He shuffled around papers on his desk in a pathetic attempt to appear busy. Gia seemed unfazed, leaning her tiny frame against the cubicle wall.

Grady could see why Benny hooked up with her in the first place; she was totally his type, from the double Ds on her chest to the bossy attitude.

Plus it didn't hurt that she always dressed as if she were the Saturday night special. Today's outfit consisted of a skintight black dress and a red cardigan and heels that matched her hair color exactly.

"What the hell are you doing here? I hear you haven't seen daylight in over a month."

He wrinkled his nose in irritation. She was clearly in a nosy mood. "Just figured I'd get a head start on next month's 'Go-To Guy' article."

She smirked. "You should do an article on Benny. I know plenty of women who have dated guys like him. Or considering his bedding habits, he's probably slept with half the women in New York any way."

Grady's eyebrow raised in surprise. She was clearly reaching for shit. "Uh...I'll take that into consideration, Gia." He was hoping she'd take the hint and clear out but no such luck. If the determined gleam in her eye was any indication, he was going to be in for a long, unwanted conversation.

"So I hear your boy Tony is setting up a show tonight. Think Benny will be there?"

Grady could hear the anticipation in her voice and he almost felt sorry for her. She was clearly chasing after something that would never happen. Now why does that sound familiar, a small voice whispered nastily in his head. "Uh, he might. Listen Gia I got some work to do. Think we can continue this conversation at a later time?"

He was waiting for her to ignore his request and continue with her pestering, but surprisingly she nodded.

"Yeah, I gotta get back to my desk. I'm in a bidding war for some Louboutins with some housewife in Wisconsin. It's ridiculous, what the fuck does a middle-aged, stretch pants wearing, Clairol queen need with a pair of shoe perfection?"

"I...uh..."

"Anywho," Gia interjected with a wave of her hand. "I'll let you get back to your work. Who knows...I might see you tonight." Turning elegantly on her stilettos, she disappeared behind cubicle wall.

Grady groaned. Great. Another fucking reason NOT to show up to this ridiculous function. He really didn't feel like listening to a shit band while trying to dodge Gia and her Stage 5 Clinger behavior.

Deciding to get some work done while he was in the office, Grady logged onto his computer. He wasn't sure what he should be doing, but he supposed there had to be something to occupy and waste time.

It was as good a time as any to log onto Facebook. He typed in his email and password, bypassing the notifications and friend requests for what he really wanted.

Typing into the search bar, his heart jumped slightly at the sight of her page. He was pathetic. Stalking an ex on a website was so middle school, but he couldn't help it. He had a sick fascination with Edie and her life after him.

She seemed to be doing just fine without him, and that realization made him sad and a little angry. From all the pictures of her out at clubs, fashion functions, and house parties she totally wasn't pining over what was lost between them. And of course she looked fucking stunning, her burnished skin the color of golden, crispy caramel.

"Fucking hell," he cursed aloud. He quickly logged off in an attempt to stave off the thoughts that were destined to torture him. This wasn't a way to live, he thought. He felt like a fucking zombie, trudging through life's mundane tasks with as much enthusiasm as a dyslexic in a spelling bee.

Grady whipped out his Blackberry and typed a quick message to Tony. "Count me in for tonight." With a press of his thumb the message was sent and a fiery need to let loose flooded his veins. He'd been alone with his depressing thoughts too long.

It was time to let his hair down.

********

Grady cursed as he huffed loudly, his bulk plus his wool pea coat making it impossible to move quickly in the cold; he definitely needed to lose some weight and quit the fucking cigarettes. He felt like an old ass man, moving slow with heavy steps.

Thank fuck it had stopped snowing or else he would have been in some serious trouble. He supposed he could have taken a cab, but downtown Monday night was unusually busy and besides, he was already late—as usual.

He was still panting when he reached the entrance of the Ballroom. Before he could start bitching, he spotted Tony. He was standing in front of the bouncer, his iPhone attached to his ear. He frowned slightly as he noticed Grady.

"Well finally" he said grumpily, an emotion that was very un-Tony. "I was just about to blow your phone the fuck up."

Grady's eyebrow raised in surprise. This was definitely behavior relegated to Benny. Tony was way chill; something was bothering him. "Sorry dude," Grady said sheepishly. "You know how I am."

Tony's brown eyes softened. While his flare-ups were rare, Tony never stayed mad for long. "It's cool dude. I know you run on a time completely different from the rest of us humans. I was just getting antsy."

Grady nodded. "I can tell, man. What's got you so wound up?"

"Nothing. Same shit, different day." He glanced at his phone with what Grady could have sworn it was a longing look in his eyes.

"Girl trouble?" Grady questioned.

"Aren't all girls trouble?" Tony's reply was a little bitter.

"Is it Gemma? What's doing? I thought you two were feeling each other."

Tony shrugged. "I don't know, man. I mean, I dig her. A lot. But she's being kind of standoffish since the night at the club. I think she's avoiding me."

"Avoiding you? Why?"

"Dunno, man. I just get that strange feeling." Grady knew all too well about Tony's "strange feelings". They were usually spot on. Grady hoped that maybe this time, it wasn't true about Gemma. Tony really seem to be crushing on her. It was weird to see him like this. With his busy schedule, Tony never had time to funnel his energy into a healthy, lasting relationship. Grady felt bad for the guy.

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