Risking Heartbreak

Chapter Two

Melanie’s alarm went off at seven the following morning. At first all she could think about was the throbbing of her head. Then she sat up and it all came rushing back to her. Everything that had happened the night before was all there and it was all crystal clear.

She clutched at her head with her right hand. Part of the reason behind her action was because her head was already killing her. The other part was because she couldn’t believe what had taken place the night before.

An unspoken line had definitely been crossed. Her biggest problem was she wished that the line crossing had ended with the ill-advised kiss. Even through the usual morning haze and the headache, she knew that it was as if a switch had been flipped and she wasn’t going to be able to think of Richard in the same way moving forward.

Not wanting to think about it any longer, she got out of bed so she could get ready to meet her friends for breakfast. She was keeping her fingers crossed that her friends would be able to keep her mind off of things. She was also hoping that they might have a little bit of usable advice for her as well.

It was an hour and a half after she’d first woken up when she walked into the restaurant to meet her friends. All of her hopes from earlier that morning were dashed as she walked through the doors of the restaurant. She knew that even her friends weren’t going to be able to keep her mind off of things for too long.

She met up with her friends and they were seated. No one said anything until they’d each ordered their coffee. Melanie looked down, not wanting to be the one to break the silence. Her head was still in a fog and she was more than ready for another cup of coffee. She was so out of things that she hadn’t even realized that her sunglasses were still on.

“Any reason you haven’t even taken off your sunglasses? How much drinking did you do with your family last night?” Her best friend, Erica, asked.

Melanie pushed the sunglasses up so they rested on the top of her head and closed her eyes to avoid the light. “More than usual. I’m pretty sure I out drank James and Kevin both.”

“Out drinking your brothers now? Should we be worried?” Angela asked.

“No,” Melanie snorted, “its not like its an everyday thing. I am regretting not backing off earlier though.”

“Well how long did you stay?” Brandy probed.

“Well it was long enough that she’s got eyes that match both the state and country flags,” Erica quipped.

“It was close to one when I left. The rest of the family left before I did.” Melanie turned to look at Erica. “Thanks for pointing that out. I’m going to remember that the next time you’re in my position. Don’t forget that you have blue eyes too and that joke works just as well for you.”

Melanie had hoped that by the time she’d made it to the restaurant the redness in her eyes would have eased. Erica’s comment wasn’t entirely unexpected, after all Melanie had seen her own eyes in the mirror that morning, but Melanie still had to focus on not laughing. Erica was right after all. With Melanie’s blue eyes the redness did make her eyes match the colors of the U.S. flag and the Texas state flag.

After everyone had placed their orders, Melanie eyes moved down towards her cup of coffee while the rest of the women carried on their conversation. Melanie wanted to tell someone, pretty much anyone at that point, about what was going on. Unfortunately she wasn’t sure how to bring it up.

Their food had already arrived by the time the other four women at the table could no longer stand Melanie’s silence. They all knew that something was going on with Melanie but they didn’t have the slightest inkling what it was. Erica looked directly at Melanie and without worrying about small talk, cut directly to the chase, “So what happened last night? You’re different this morning.”

“Well I was the last one of my family to leave and that left me alone with Richard and something really weird happened…” she trailed off, the paused for a minute. “We talked and drank for a little while and then went outside to get some air and wait for the cabs. I went to shift my weight and my ankle just gave way. I caught my balance and then I realized that Richard had grabbed onto my arm to keep me from falling. Then it was like a switched had flipped or something and it wasn’t like he was my parents’ friend or someone I’d known most of my life. I mean I understand that we were both pretty drunk but still. And it gets worse. He kissed me and I liked it. Like I mean I really, really liked it.”

Jenna coughed, having nearly choked on a drink of coffee. “You’re kidding! You’ve got to be making this stuff up!”

“I wish I was! But I’m not!” Melanie’s head fell forward. That reaction was worse than what she expected.

“What in the hell are you going to do?” Erica asked.

“He’s like thirty years older than you!” Brandy exclaimed.

“He’s forty-five not fifty-five! Its nineteen years, not thirty,” Melanie said. She looked over at her friend Angela, waiting for the final woman in the group to join in.

Angela laughed then said, “I’m not jumping on their bandwagon so don’t give me that look.”

“What do you mean?” Melanie questioned.

“I’m not going to criticize you for it.”

“Oh really? Why not?” Brandy asked.

Angela laughed and gave a sheepish smile. “Because I’ve seen the man. I sorta understand it.”

Melanie burst into laughter. “Translation, he’s hot.”

Angela’s cheeks heated up. “Thanks for tossing that out there, Mel, I was hoping those exact words wouldn’t be used. I was going to say that the man aged well.”

Erica rolled her eyes. “We’re not talking physical appeal right now. We’re trying to discuss the fact that he is Mel’s parents’ friend and twenty years older than her.”

“Can we stop acting like I did something terrible like jumped into bed with him?” Melanie’s voice lowered so that no one other than those at the table could hear.

“I’m not judging you but you’ve got to kill this before it gets out of hand. Do you have any idea how many problems this can lead to? You see him all the time with your parents and this could make that incredibly awkward for you.” Erica’s voice had taken on soft yet firm tone that made Melanie think of Catherine.

Melanie had been praying for this reaction from Erica since shortly after she’d woken up that morning. Erica Romero had been Melanie’s best friend since high school. They’d become friends almost instantly when they sat beside each other in homeroom on the first day of freshman year and over ten years later nothing had changed. Erica was always the most level headed of the group and was usually the best person for practical advice.

“You’re right, I know you’re right. But does anyone here have any ideas on how to stop it?” Melanie eyes darted around to each of the women and received nothing but silence. She sighed, “That’s what I thought. I don’t want to be in this situation. I just don’t know how to fix it.”


“This was a mistake,” Melanie said, running the towel over her face to get rid of the sweat. “I shouldn’t have ever agreed to come with you today.”

Angela laughed from the treadmill beside Melanie, “Maybe you should have done less partying and more sleeping last night. Just think you’re burning off all those alcohol calories from last night.”

Melanie rolled her eyes, “I should have just waited until tomorrow. Is there any particular reason you wanted me to come with you to the gym?”

“Just thought we’d get the chance to talk.”

“Oh here we go.”

“Listen, I’m not Erica, Jenna, or Brandy. I’m not going to make any sarcastic comments about your so called lapse in judgment.”

Melanie picked up her pace on the treadmill. She was hoping that she’d gotten talking about the previous night out of the way already. When Angela had invited her to the gym she hadn’t expected this to happen. She wasn’t even sure that she wanted to talk about it anymore. “So called, huh?”

Angela picked up her own pace to match Melanie’s. “Yes, so called. I don’t think it’s a bad as everyone else wants to make it out to be.”

“Really? You running a fever?”

Laughing, Angela shook her head “People get involved with people they shouldn’t all the time and no one says anything. Remember when Brandy went out with Jenna’s older brother for like a year?”

“I remember how pissed Jenna was for about the first six months.”

“Exactly. She was mad because she felt like she was being betrayed. No one expects friends to become involved with their family. Or I guess in your case a family friend. We’re all quick to look at something from the outside and judge when we aren’t the ones involved. I mean its not like you made out with a relative or someone that’s already involved with someone else.”

“He’s still twenty years older than me.”

“Nineteen,” Angela corrected, “and who cares? Is it anyone else’s business? The only two people’s opinions who matter in this are yours and his. And frankly, I think you could to a lot worse than Richard.”

Melanie laughed again. She was suddenly extremely thankful that she’d come with Angela. This was the first time since she’d woken up that she didn’t feel like she was on the verge of going crazy. The looks that the rest of her friends had given her earlier in the day were worse than she’d expected. She still agreed with Erica about needed to stop whatever was happening in its tracks, but it was still nice to know that Angela would be supportive no matter what. Angela also wasn’t making Melanie feel like the kiss with Richard had just been something absolutely terrible. Melanie knew that it was a giant mistake but she didn’t think it was as awful as her other friends had made it out to be. “Of course you think that.”

“Why do you say it like that?”

“Because we’ve all known what you think of him for like the last three years.”

Angela stepped off the treadmill and took a swig of water. “Yeah well you all suck.”

“Then next time do a better job of hiding it.”

“So you still going to work on killing whatever is going on?”

A sigh escaped Melanie’s lips. “Yeah. I appreciate your pep talk but at the end of the day Erica is right. I just can’t put myself in that situation. Not to mention I have no intention of chasing a relationship with him and I’m ninety-nine percent sure he has no interest in me.”

“Well then at least you have until Wednesday to work on that before you have to see him again right?” Angela noticed that Melanie began to chew on her bottom lip. “Or not. When are you seeing him again?”

“Tomorrow I think. There is a barbeque at my parents house tomorrow so dad can celebrate with the rest of his friends and so Steve can be there and I’m pretty sure Richard is going to be there.”

Angela laughed as she and Melanie headed towards the gym’s locker room. “You’re screwed.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

On her way home, Melanie couldn’t stop her mind from going back over everything her friends had said. Angela’s view was impulsive, rash, and probably irrelevant while Erica’s was sensible and logical. Melanie knew that both their opinions matched their personalities. Angela had always been the impulsive one and rarely thought about the possible complications of her decisions until it was too late. Erica, on the other hand, was very sensible and logical and sometimes over thought things. Melanie was thankful for both of them because she felt like their opinions balanced each other out a little bit.

When she arrived home, Melanie got a bottle of water out of her refrigerator and then plopped onto her couch. Her strawberry blonde hair was still damp from her shower and the gym and rested over each of her shoulders, the moisture soaking into her tee-shirt. She realized that this had been the first moment of peace she’d had since waking up.

As Melanie channel surfed the day’s tension began to leave her body. She knew the relaxation was only temporary while her mind was preoccupied. As soon as she wasn’t focused on some minuscule, mindless activity like channel surfing it would all come rushing back.

It wasn’t long before she settled on a channel and had exactly what she’d expected happen. Her mind was once again filled with more thoughts than she could handle. As she replayed the night before in her mind her cheeks began to warm.

She wasn’t as embarrassed about the kiss as much as she was about what she’d said afterwards. She’d known it was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened. She knew that she wasn’t supposed to kiss a man that had been friends with her parents since high school. Yet she just couldn’t get over the comment she’d made after the kiss. That was what was going to leave her cringing for months.

Squeezing her eyes closed, she wished the headache would go away. Without the pounding in her head she might have been able to think at least a little clearer. The rest of the symptoms of the hangover had disappeared early that afternoon, including the redness in her eyes, but the headache refused to go away.

Melanie threw her arm over her face and sighed. I’m never drinking that much again, she thought, already starting to dread what she now had to look forward to the next day.