Getting Over Edie Ch. 04bynerd4music©
Author's Note: Well here it is! Thanks a million times for your patience. Life's been a jumble but I'm slowly sorting it out and getting back to what really matters. So here's Number 4. Happy Reading. Five is on the way. ~n4m.
It sucks to start your life over. Whenever a relationship ends, it seems we finally notice just how much we alter ourselves and aspects of our lives to suit the needs of our partners. When I was dating, I was constantly aware of things: not leaving the toilet seat up or remembering to put my dirty underwear in the hamper instead of leaving it on the floor.
Dating is an endless series of dates to remember like anniversaries and birthdays, and promises to keep. A good friend once told me that being in a relationship is a full-time job, and it's completely true. There's a lot of hard work that goes into dating in order to receive a payoff, be it marriage, kids, or whatever.
If dating is a full-time job, then I guess I'm back to the application process. I am excited about the process of cleaning up my life. I feel like I've been in a funk for so long I've forgotten how it feels to just let shit go and relax.
Sure, I still think about E. That's not going to change for a while. But there isn't that longing, aching feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I think about not being with her. It's weird; whenever heartbreak happens, people always reassure you that the pain will eventually stop.
That's exactly what you don't want to hear when you're in the thick of things. Most of the time that advice was dispensed when I didn't want to hear it. And I thought it was complete bullshit...until it wasn't. For some people it's gradual; the pain ebbs away slowly, a little piece disappearing daily. For me, it was a little different. I can't explain it; it just happened.
I woke up one morning and...nothing. No pain. It was like the burden of my breakup was finally lifted off my shoulders. It was oddly relieving—and kind of itchy.
It's all a part of the cleansing process, the art of removing unwanted and toxic elements from my life. Alcohol was the first part, next came the cleansing purge, and then the physical improvement followed soon after.
Maybe it's the lovely weather, but I'm feeling brand new. Waking up and going about my day doesn't feel like a herculean task. I'm hoping this good feeling will last.
"Oh my gosh! I read your blog all the time. You are Grady Kade, right? The Go-To Guy?"
"Yeah, that's me" Grady replied. He sipped on his iced pomegranate green tea and eyed the perky brunette woman hovering above him.
She smiled before sliding into the chair across from him. "Oh my gosh, I knew it! I was talking to my friend Christine over there and I said 'that has to be him!' Can I just say that your picture does not do you justice? You are so hot in person!"
She giggled before covering her mouth. "Oh my gosh I can't believe I said that. Christine tells me all the time to think before I open my mouth." She turned to her left. "Hey Christine!" she shouted brightly. "It IS him!"
Although Grady cringed at her intrusiveness he couldn't help but smile at her bubbly infectiousness. "Well, it's nice to meet you..."
The brunette's hazel eyes widened. "Oh my gosh, I totally forgot to introduce myself. My name is Brea. Brea McEntire. I've read all of your writing."
"Uh, well thanks Brea. And it is nice to meet you, but I'm actually kind of meeting someone and they should be here soon..."
"Oh no, I've imposed. Oh my gosh I'm so sorry. Christine says I have a habit of butting in where I don't belong." She jabbed a thumb in the direction of another brunette who was throwing Grady a pitying look and trying to bring her overly nosey friend back to their table.
Grady shrugged. "It's cool. Nice to meet you Brea."
Brea giggled once more. "You are just so awesome in person. I can't wait to tell everyone I actually met you. My boyfriend hates how much I talk about you. He says that you're gay and the E in your story is really a dude. But he's an idiot."
"Sounds like it."
She giggled once more, and Grady smiled as well.
"Alright I've kept you long enough. It was nice to meet you and good luck with the rest of the article. You are so brave, you know. And any girl would be lucky to have you." She shot him a huge smile before returning to her table, her friend Christine shooting her a disapproving look.
With a chuckle Grady returned to his drink. Life was...well it was vastly improving. Starting a blog was a great idea. Within a month, he'd already had over 2 million hits and at least 100,000 followers. It was a weird thing, to be so linked in with an eager audience. People were actually interested in what he had to say.
People were curious about his activities, and Nell encouraged his indulgence. He found himself being recognized in the most mundane of places, like coffee shops and even the men's locker room at his gym.
It was definitely an awkward moment, having a grown man nearly nude and in tears, talking about how his fiancée left him at the altar and how Grady's situation helped him get through his own.
It was an ordeal, but it made him realize just how important his story was not only to his recovery, but to other people as well. What a refreshing, yet absolutely daunting notion. He scribbled a few sentences in his notebook.
"Writing the next great American blog entry?"
Grady looked up to see Tony grinning down at him.
"Something like that," he said with a smile. "Hey man. You're late."
Tony nodded sheepishly as he took the seat opposite Grady. "Yeah, sorry about that."
"It's all good man. So what have you been up to? Feel like it's been a minute since I've seen you."
"Since the night at the Ballroom. The Love in Chains gig." Tony shook off his black motorcycle jacket and red scarf.
Grady nodded. "You know I'm not mad at you for that, right?"
"Dude, I know."
"Good. I was hoping that wasn't the reason why you were MIA."
Tony shook his head. "Not at all. I don't know man. I figured with all that shit, with seeing Edie that night you just wanted a break from everything. I thought you needed some space."
"I appreciate that, dude. But I think I've had enough of taking a break. Besides, it's been nearly five weeks since the Love in Chains show. Don't you think that was enough time? Why the hell would you leave me alone with Benny for so long?"
Tony laughed. "Alright, alright. I was a total asshole. But to be honest I've been really busy with work. Been doing studio sessions with Love in Chains. Figured you didn't want to be around all that."
"Was...was she there?"
Tony's brown eyes studied his best friend. "Do you really want to know the answer to that?" Grady pondered the question for a moment before shaking his head. "No, I guess not." He took a generous sip of tea. "How's the group?"
"Not bad. There's raw talent, especially in Dax and Stevie. Dylan's a major fucking tool. Pretentious little shit." They both laughed. "So I see you've made some changes. Not covered in a cloud of cigarette smoke anymore."
Grady nodded. He was grateful that Tony didn't go into any more detail about Dylan. "Yeah, I quit smoking again. For good this time."
"Good for you man." He studied Grady once more.
"You seem different."
Tony shook his head. "Nah. It's definitely good. You're not old Grady, but you're definitely not this Grady we've been stuck with for a while."
"I suppose there was a compliment hidden in there somewhere."
"You know what I mean. There's something positive in you, man. I'm digging it. I suppose it has to do with your newfound popularity."
"Yeah, I just had to deal with some of my fan club earlier. It's nice; a little weird, but nice."
"You really are helping people, you know that."
Tony shredded a piece of napkin between his fingers, his kind eyes studying the changed man sitting across from him.
Grady nodded. "I know. This is definitely bigger than me now."
"Kind of a daunting thought, isn't it?"
"I try not to think about it too much. I just write, man. Just live and write."
"Dude...who are you and what happened to the automaton that was my best friend?"
They both laughed. "I'm still here man," Grady responded. "I promise. I'm just trying new shit. What's that saying—'Crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' I think my stay in Crazytown has been long over. It's time for a change."
"Preach it sister!" Tony exclaimed. He shot Grady a sheepish look. "Sorry. I've been watching those damn Madea movies lately. Gemma really likes them."
"Gemma, huh?" Grady cocked his eyebrow.
Tony rolled his eyes. "Yes Gemma. We worked stuff out; at least we're working on it." He paused for a brief moment as if he were unsure how to continue; Grady could see that whatever was on his mind was bound to be really heavy. "She's got a kid, dude."
That caught Grady off-guard. "Whoa."
"Yeah...that was my initial reaction when she told me. She was so standoffish because she was afraid, I guess. From what I gathered, things didn't end so well with the father. She's definitely been hurt before. "
"Shit, haven't we all? Join the club."
Tony chuckled. "True story. She was also concerned because of my job that I wouldn't have time for her. It was some sort of preemptive strike, cutting ties before I could. It was bullshit, and I told her so. I like her, man. A lot. So I want to at least give it a go."
"Wow," Grady said. "That's some real talk right there. Never really heard that from you before, at least about a girl."
Tony shrugged, a small smile danced playfully on his lips. "Yeah well I've never had these feelings about a girl before. It's nice, knowing someone else gives a damn about you." He glanced up at his best friend. "You good, man?"
Grady nodded as he drained the rest of his tea. "I'm fine. It's not going to kill me, listening to other people's stories. I'm happy for you, and Gemma. You're right; there's nothing like that feeling. If nothing else goes right, you'll always remember the way you felt in the beginning." He smiled to himself as he allowed a brief trip down memory lane.
While he didn't want to dwell too much on Edie and the past, it was nice to recall the earlier times. It was all he allowed himself to do. Just a brief glimpse; nothing more. For the most part he was determined to keep looking forward.
Tony gazed at his friend with something akin to admiration. "I'm proud of you man."
"Ah, c'mon man. Let's not make this into a Hallmark moment." He tossed a stray sugar packet at Tony's head, which he swiftly ducked. "I'm not trying to hug it out or anything. This is strictly a catch-up session."
"Speaking of catching up, I'm having a party at my place tomorrow. You should come. Fair warning—some of the artists I work with are attending. There's a chance she could be there." His look was wary as he eyed him from across the table.
"It's all good, dude. I'm a big boy. I can handle it." Grady checked his watch. "Well, my lunch break is almost over. I should probably get back to work. Thanks for meeting me."
Tony shrugged. "No problem. And tell Benny to bring his ass tomorrow. I know for a fact he ain't doing shit."
"Yeah about that...what the hell is going on with him?"
"You haven't seen him lately?" Tony asked.
"Well we work out four days a week together but he's been ultra-secretive lately. I know something's going on and I keep meaning to figure out what it is but I've been so busy with shit I haven't had the time to play detective."
"Yeah...it's been bugging the hell out of me. He's up to something."
Grady nodded. "Most definitely. But whatever it is, we'll figure it out soon enough. You know his bitch ass could never keep a secret."
Tony chuckled his agreement. "True story. Well I'll let you get back to work. I'll see you tomorrow at ten, okay?"
The two men rose simultaneously. Tony glanced at Grady, sizing him up. "Man, you have been working out with Benny. You look good."
"Why Mr. Cho, are you trying to seduce me?"
"Jesus, now I definitely know you've been hanging out with Benny too long" Tony said with a grin.
"I'm just saying all your hard work is paying off."
Grady smiled. "Thanks man. I'm feeling really good." And it was true. He was down thirty-five pounds and was feeling like a champ. With Benny's guidance and pushy, no-nonsense attitude in the gym he was massing and cutting like a pro. He wanted to keep his bulk and muscle but lose the flab and Benny was just the trainer to help him out.
By cutting out cigarettes and eating better, he was able to shape up his midsection, which had previously resembled a spare tire. He looked good, and felt even better.
Tony gave him a quick fist bump as they exited the coffee shop. "Tomorrow night at ten" he reminded him.
Grady nodded. "Got it dude. See you then."
"Later, big guy." Tony signaled for a taxi as Grady started off for his office building. Grady put on his headphones while he walked, letting the sounds of Frank Ocean guide him the few blocks back to his job. His head bobbed along to the music, his steps falling into the beat of the song.
He felt good, truly; the weather was steadily improving. The bitter cold of the January and February months were slowly fading away to pleasant coolness. It was a sure sign that spring was fast approaching.
Shoving his hands deeper into the pockets of his grey military jacket, he quickened his pace. His lunch ran a little longer than he intended. He had a staff meeting in about twenty minutes and his lateness would surely earn him a disapproving glare from Nell.
No matter how impressed she was with his current success he was sure it wouldn't save him from a good bitching out by his hard-nosed boss.
Two and a half songs later he reached his office. As he reached for the glass double doors he noticed a figure standing inside the lobby. "Arden?" he questioned, making a beeline for her.
Arden looked up from her cell phone. Her wide brown eyes lit up at the sight of him. "Grady, hey!" She shoved her phone into a large yellow purse on her arm before walking towards him.
"Hey there," he said in response. "What are you doing here?"
She slung her purse over her shoulder. "My friend Lindsay works in the building. I'm meeting her for lunch."
"Oh, cool." For a brief moment he had a wild thought she was here to see him. He wondered where that came from.
"Yeah. It's funny. I've been here maybe four or five times and I never realized this was the same building that EDGE magazine was in."
"Small world, isn't it?"
She nodded. "Indeed. You look really good," she said. Grady glanced down at his typical work outfit: casual black slacks and a light blue collared shirt underneath a thin navy blue sweater.
"Thanks. Those gym sessions with Benny are really paying off."
He grinned. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't happy to see her. Since that time in the gym, he'd run into her a few times around the city but they were both usually rushing off somewhere that their interactions were reduced to a quick but friendly greeting and a casual wave.
Grady had to admit, she definitely grew on him. He was interested in finding out more about her, but didn't exactly know how to approach things. She was dressed up, a change from her normal workout gear and dance clothes. Dark wash jeans tucked into tall black stiletto boots, and a yellow tunic under a black leather jacket.
Her dark chestnut hair was partially hidden under a slouchy knit beret colored a shockingly bright shade of yellow. She certainly enjoyed her sunny colors.
He found himself really studying her, and that kind of alarmed him. He needed to make a fast exit before he opened his mouth and said something unbelievably stupid. "Well, I suppose I'd better get back to work" he said.
Arden grinned. "That's right. The minions of the Grady Kade fan club are expecting some stellar piece of profound-ness and we don't want to be disappointed."
He cocked an eyebrow in surprise. "We? Are you telling me you're a fan of my column?"
"I may or may not check your blog every day for updates," she replied, trying to keep her voice nonchalant. She shrugged casually. "Maybe I stalk you online. No big deal."
His smile was slow and easy. "Should I be worried?"
"I don't know. It's not like I know where you live. Or do I?" she added mysteriously. They both laughed. Grady was going to be super late for his meeting but for some reason he didn't mind. "Hey, so I have to ask. Are you going to Tony's party tomorrow night?"
Arden nodded, flipping her dark hair over her shoulder. "Yeah, I'll be there. Love in Chains has to make an appearance and Stevie wants me to tag along so she doesn't strangle Dylan and toss him out a window or something. I'll probably end up playing referee all fucking night." Her gaze met his. "Will you be there?"
"I was thinking about it."
"Well you should go. I'll be totally bored and probably ready to pull my hair out in frustration. I'll need someone to take out my misplaced aggression on."
"I take it that'll be me?"
She let out a small chuckle. "What can I say? You're my favorite punching bag." Their eyes met once more and there was an unmistakable sizzle.
Whoa, Grady thought. Where the hell did that come from?
He cleared his throat. "I, uh, should probably get going. I'm already late as shit for a staff meeting. My editor is going to kill me. I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"
She gave him a short nod. "Sounds like a plan." She reached out, her fingers squeezing his biceps lightly. "I meant what I said. You do look really good." She shot him a small smile and turned, heading out the glass doors, leaving Grady positively puzzled.
As he rode the elevator up to EDGE's floor, his mind kept coming back to the first time they met at Silver Gym. Benny was sure she had a crush on him, but Grady was too focused on not passing out from exhaustion to bother with Benny and his bullshit.
But now, after so many chance encounters and what he could only describe as "THE LOOK" he was starting to suspect that Benny wasn't so completely full of shit after all.
He should have been shocked; after all, this was the same woman who was extremely irritating, to the point where strangulation was a strong, considerable option. They weren't very friendly to each other, but he could not deny the slight shift in their behavior.
That night at Spagnoli's she was an attentive ear and the kick in the ass he needed to shift into gear. He thought they forged a somewhat pleasant acquaintance. Was it really possible she was feeling him?
The elevator dinged loudly, signaling his stop. Grady tried to push thoughts of Arden from his mind and shift his focus to the task at hand. He was nearly ten minutes late to the staff meeting. Nell was going to kill him.
Grady was running late...as usual. The digital clock on his cable box blinked 10:45 at him in an almost snobbish manner, chiding him for his lack of time management skills. It wasn't his fault; he was swamped with work stuff, editing his new blog entry, drawing the outline for his article, not to mention paying penance to Nell for being late to yesterday's meeting.
After work, he headed to the gym for his normal session and by the time he finally got home and into the shower it was already after ten.
He justified his lateness, reasoning that no one showed up to a party on time. And since it was just Tony, who was well aware of his downfall, it wasn't that big of a deal. He stood in front of his closet, trying to decide what to wear. Normally clothes weren't a big deal; while he took care in his appearance, he wasn't a diva.