Author: Julie Somerville
Title: Torn Between Two Lovers
Type of Work: short story
Source: CMv2 #11, 12, 13, 14, 15
© Copyright 2003 Julie Somerville
Brenda Harper was happier than she'd been in awhile. She had a great job writing for a television show. Her relationship with her boyfriend Kevin was going better than ever. She thought she had it all and was the happiest woman in California. She was sitting in her L.A. home daydreaming, when her phone rang. Brenda lifted her cat Whiskers off her lap and answered the phone.
"Hello?" said Brenda.
"Hi sweetie," said Kevin. "I've got a surprise for you. Let's have dinner at La Grande tonight so i can tell you."
"Oh Kevin," cooed Brenda, "That's a special place. I'd love to go."
"Yeah, it's almost as special as you are, Brenda. I'll pick you up at 6:00 tonight." said Kevin.
"i'll be waiting. I love you." said Brenda affectionately.
"I love you too honey. Bye." said Kevin.
Brenda was so excited. She thought she knew what the surprise was. As she looked through her closet for something special to wear, she daydreamed about her date with Kevin. Lately she had been hinting to Kevin that after 6 years of dating, she was ready to get married. At twenty-eight she felt ready for marriage. La Grande was the fanciest restaurant Brenda had ever been to. Kevin had taken her there for their first anniversary. She couldn't wait to see the place again. Brenda selected a short black cocktail dress from her closet. She found her black pumps and a pair of pantyhose with no runs. She put on her outfit and was fixing her hair when the doorbell rang. She looked at her watch and saw that it was exactly 6:00. When Brenda answered the door, Kevin was standing there holding a dozen roses.
"These are for you sweetie." said Kevin.
"They're beautiful. Come in while i put them in water." said Brenda.
She put the roses in water, grabbed her purse and left the house with Kevin.
"Oh Kevin, this place is as beautiful as i remember." said Brenda adoringly
as she and Kevin entered the restaurant. The maitr'd led Brenda and Kevin to their
reserved table. They had a beautiful view of the ocean.
"I just love this place Kevin." Brenda exclaimed. "I love it too." said Kevin.
Brenda opened her menu and looked over the delicious choices of food.
"So what was that surprise you told me about Kevin?" asked Brenda casually.
"Oh i'm glad you brought that up," said Kevin. "Do you remember that possible promotion i told you about?"
Kevin worked for a local television station. He had been a street reporter since they had started dating. Recently his boss had informed him he may be getting promoted to news anchor. Brenda was happy for him. He deserved a promotion.
"Of course i remember the promotion. Does this mean you got it?"
"Yeah i got it," he said. "Only i can't take it if i stay in California."
"What," Brenda said warily.
"They want to send me to a station in New York. I'll get to move back with my family."
Brenda sat in shock, absorbing this news. When the waiter came to take their order she told Kevin to order for her. She was too shocked toorder for herself. This was not the surprise she had expected. She couldn't believe Kevin was just going to pick up and leave her and California, and worse yet, he was happy about it! She thought Kevin loved her.
"Brenda," said Kevin. "Say something. you look bewildered."
"How can you do this to me?" wailed Brenda. "I thought you loved me. How could you leave me?"
"Brenda i don't want to leave you. I want you to move to New York with me." said Kevin.
"Kevin, i don't want to do that," said Brenda, "I'm happy with my life in California. I don't want to quit my job and leave my home."
"But Brenda," exclaimed Kevin, "I really want to take this job and i want you to come with me. That's the only way we can be together."
"I'm sorry, said Brenda, "I can't. I can't go away with you."
Brenda got up and ran to the women's room, leaving Kevin sitting at the table, his mouth hanging open in shock. She locked herself in a stall and let the tears flow. She couldn't believe it. Here she thought Kevin was going to ask her to marry him and it turned out he was leaving her. She couldn't stand the thought of losing him, but she was not going to give up her life in L.A. When she finally stopped crying she washed her face, brushed her hair, and left the restroom. She found a payphone and called a cab. All she wanted to do was go home and go to bed. She did not want to be with Kevin long enough for him to drive her home. As she waited for the cab outside the restaurant, she heard Kevin exiting the restaurant calling her name, but she wasn't interested in talking to him. Her cab pulled up and she got into the backseat. Affter she had given the driver directions to her house, she sank back into the seat and closed her eyes. She had a terrible headache. She couldn't believe how the night had turned out. She wondered if she'd ever be happy again.
When Brenda entered her house, she kicked off her shoes and sank onto the couch. Then she noticed that her answering machine was blinking. She hit the message button and listened. The message was from Kevin, begging Brenda to call him. That was the last thing Brenda felt like doing. Instead, she took a warm bath and went to bed. It was hours before she fell asleep and even then her sleep was restless. She dreamed that Kevin went back home and became world famous. He came back to visit her long enough to wave all his fortunes in her face. Then he was whisked away by his own private jet, with Brenda crying and pleading with him to come back to her. She woke up in a cold sweat with tears pouring down her face. She turned on her beside lamp and saw Whiskers lying at the bottom of her bed. She grabbed the cat and rocked him like a baby. When she became exhausted from crying, she put the cat down and clicked off the light
The next morning, Brenda woke up to a rainy, dreary day. Perfect, she thought. The weather matches my mood. She got up, got dressed and wandered into the kitchen. She was pouring herself a cup of coffee when the doorbell rang. She picked up her coffee cup and went to answer the door. When she looked through the peephole she nearly dropped her coffee cup on the living room rug. Kevin was at the door. For a second, she considered not answering the door. She knew she'd have to talk to Kevin eventually though, so she opened the door.
"Can i come in?," asked Kevin quietly.
"Yeah i guess." murmured Brenda.
"We need to talk. You rushed out of the restuarant so fast last night we really didn't get a chance to talk about this." said Kevin.
"What's there to talk about?" said Brenda quietly, "You want to move to New York and i don't want to go with you."
"Honey, i really want you to come with me. You can find a writing job in New York. said Kevin.
"But i'm happy with my job here. I've lived in California all my life. I don't want to leave." Brenda said.
"Well i feel the same way about New York that you do about California."
"Then why did you come to California in the first place?" asked Brenda.
"I thought i'd have more opportunites in California. Now i could be doing what i've always dreamed of doing. If that means moving, fine!" Kevin said.
"Kevin i love you. I don't want to lose you."
"I love you too. I don't want to lose you either. That's why i want you to come to New York with me."
"But Kevin...." protested Brenda.
"Just think about it Brenda."
"Ok i will. But don't get your heart set on me going with you." said Brenda tiredly.
"That's all i ask Brenda. Take as long as you need to think about it."
"When i've made up my mind, i'll let you know my decision."
"Good, i better get going. I'll talk to you later. Bye." said Kevin.
"Bye." said Brenda.
All week long, Brenda thought about the situation with Kevin. She loved him and she wanted to be with him. On the other hand, how could she give up everything she had in California to go to some place she'd never been to before? Brenda hated having to make this decision so she buried herself in her work in an attempt to distract herself. She was passing out scripts to the actors, for the episode they were filming at the end of the week. Brenda was distracted from her problems with Kevin by one of the actors guest starring on the show that week. He had become a semi regular and Brenda had to admit, she was attracted to him. What was his name? she thought to herself. Justin something. Anyway he was about 5'4, an inch taller than Brenda, with brown hair and eyes.He was a funny, talented guy and Brenda thought maybe she was starting to feel a connection between the two of them. But that was crazy. She loved Kevin, didn't she? Brenda finished passing out the scripts and went back to her office. She didn't think about Kevin anymore that day. At the end of the day, Brenda was crossing the parking lot behind the studio. As she got into her car she noticed Justin walking towards her car. She caught his eye and he smiled at her. At that moment she felt butterflies in her stomach. Putting them out of her mind, she got into her car and put her key in the ignition. Her car sputtered and died. She sat there staring at the steering wheel. How could this happen?she wondered. Brenda heard a knock on her car window. She looked over and saw Juatin. Brenda rolled down her windows.
"Hey, i see you're having car troubles," said Justin. "I could give you a ride home."
As much as she had been fighting her feelings for Justin, the idea of being alone with him gave her that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling again.
"That would be great," said Brenda. "Let me just call a tow truck and then we can go." As Brenda called the tow truck company, her thoughts drifted to Kevin. She quickly pushed him out of her mind and told the man on the phone where her car was. After she hung up she glanced over at Justin. He was leaning over the open hood of her car and was examining the engine. She couldn't believe how strongly she was attracted to him.
"Well, the tow truck is on it's way," said Brenda as she walked back to her car and Justin. "Let's wait here until it comes."
There was an awkward silence as Brenda and Justin looked at each other.
"So," said Justin, "How long have you been working here?"
"I've been here 5 years now. This was my first job out of college. I was really lucky to get it," said Brenda. "How long have you been in acting?"
"Ten years. I started when i was 19," replied Justin.
"Did you grow up in California?" Brenda asked.
"No, i was born in Pennyslvannia. We moved to California when i was 10."
Just then the tow truck arrived. The driver got out, told Brenda where they'd be taking her car, and hooked the car up to the tow truck.
"Okay," said Brenda happily, "Now we can leave."
Brenda and Justin got into his car. She gave him directions to her house. Then she sat back and tried to relax. But sitting next to Justin, she couldn't keep her heart fromr acing. She was dying to know if he was attracted to her. But she just couldn't bring herself to ask.
"So tell me a little about yourself," said Justin curiously.
"Well," said Brenda, "I've lived in California my whole life. I went to UCLA after high school. And i've been writing for the show since graduation. One of my old professors at UCLA is friends with the head writer on the show, and he got me this job."
"That's great," said Justin. "I had help getting my first job too. But i didn't even go to college. After high school graduation, i spent the summer going on auditions. I had taken an acting class and an agent had spotted me in it. He told me i was a good actor and should audition for some jobs. My first job was a comemrcial for Pizza Hut. My agent sent me to audition for this show and that's how i got the job." said Justin.
"Wow, that's really interesting." said Brenda.
As Justin pulled up in front of her house, he glanced over at Brenda.
"Well, here we are. You're home now."
"Great. Thanks for the ride. I really appreciate it."
"Can i walk you to the door?" asked Justin politely.
"Yeah, i'd like that."
Justin was such a gentleman. He got out of the car, came over to the passenger side and opened the door for her. As they walked up to Brenda's front door she thought to herself "When was the last time Kevin opened the car door for me or walked me to the front door? Probably when they first started dating. Brenda pushed Kevin out of her mind again and rooted through her purse for her keys. As she was unlocking the door she turned to Justin and said, "You wanna come in for a few minutes?"
"Sure." said Justin
They walked into the house. Brenda closed the door behind them and tossed her keys on the table. Just then, Whiskers came out of the kitchen and eyed Justin.
"Oh, you've got a cat," said Justin. "That's something we have in common. I have two cats of my own."
"I love cats," said Brenda. "I bought one as soon as i moved out of my parents' house. I wanted a cat when i was growing up, but my mother hated them. Enough about that. Would you like a cup of coffee or something?" asked Brenda.
"Coffee would be great." said Justin.
"ok. Make yourself at home while i get our drinks." said Brenda.
What am i doing? she thought as she fixed two cups of coffee. I don't know this guy that well and now i'm alone in the house with him. I didn't bring Kevin into the house until after the fourth date. Stop it! she thought to herself. Stop thinking about Kevin while you're with Justin. Brenda put Kevin out of her mind and took the drinks into the living room. Justin was sitting on the couch playing with Whiskers.
"Here's your coffee," said Brenda, "Sorry it's decaf, but i'm out of regular."
"That's ok. Decaf is fine." said Justin politely.
"So how do you like my place?" asked Brenda.
"It's great. I love the paintings on the wall." Justin commented.
"I got all these paintings from my sister. She's an artist."
"Really. I'm kind of an artist myself." said Justin shyly.
"i didn't know that!" exclaimed Brenda. "What kind of art do you do?"
"Oh, i usually just draw. I've given most of my drawings away to my friends and family. I only have two in my apartment right now."
"What are they?"
"Well, one is a self portrait. The other is a collage with a Batman theme."
"That's pretty interesting," said Brenda. "I could never draw. My sister is the artistic one. I prefer writing."
"I like both. I took a script writing class in high school." Justin said.
"Writing, acting, drawing, is there anything you're not good at?" asked Brenda.
"Not really. said Justin, "Just kidding." he said when he saw the look on Brenda's face. "Well thanks for the coffee. I have to get home soon and feed my cats. They get cranky if they don't get dinner on time."
"Ok, well thanks for keeping me company. Sometimes i get lonely living here with only Whiskers to talk to." said Brenda.
"Well, why don't i give you my phone number. That way if you're ever lonely you can call me." said Justin, shyly.
"Ok." said Brenda hesitantly.
Justin wrote down his phone number and handed the slip of paper to Brenda.
"See you tomorrow at work?" said Justin.
"Yeah, see you then." said Brenda.
She watched Justin get into his car and drive away. Then she looked down at the slip of paper in her hands. She was so confused about her feelings for both Justin and Kevin.
NOTE: Presumably the story would have continued if the Creative Mind had . . .