Risking Heartbreak

Chapter Eight

Melanie leaned against the counter in Erica’s kitchen early Thursday evening. Erica was working on dinner and Melanie was observing with slight humor as Erica worked on cutting a chicken breast in half. “You know that would be a lot easier if you had knives that were actually sharp.”

“Are you gonna help me or are you just gonna stand there and bitch about my dull knives?”

“I offered you help when I got here and you said no so live with it. Now I am gonna stand here and bitch about your dull knives just because I can and you didn't give me anything to do.”

Erica rolled her eyes and finished cutting the first of the two chicken breasts. “Don’t take it personally but I have to do this by myself to prove a point. Brian’s sister-in-law hates me and if she finds out I didn’t cook everything by myself she won’t shut up about it.”

Melanie understood Erica’s position. Even though Erica had been dating her boyfriend since high school, his sister-in-law had hated Erica since she’d met her. Melanie didn’t understand exactly why the woman hated Erica when Erica had been nothing but nice to her.

Erica was about to ask Melanie a question when she heard a car door shut. She glanced at the clock and knew who was about to walk through the door. Just as she was about to tell Melanie that Brian was there the front door opened.

“I didn’t know you were going to be here, Melanie,” Brian said as he approached Erica.

“Well what a great surprise for you then!” Melanie fired back with a grin.

“Ignore her,” Erica said as she turned her head for a quick kiss. “Melanie is enjoying giving me crap today.”

“I’m not even going to bother denying that. How are you doing, Brian?”

“Same as always. Work, keep Erica happy, just the usual.”

“Oh great now both of you are going,” Erica said.

“Its all in good fun, babe.”

Melanie let Brian and Erica trade playful barbs for several minutes without interrupting. She had always been happy for Erica and Brian. When they’d gotten together in high school Melanie had never thought that they’d stay together as long as they had but it made her truly happy to see them together. They were the only other couple besides her parents that she spent anytime around that were so clearly head over heels in love with each.

“So are you still dating that same guy you've been seeing for the last few weeks?” Erica asked.

“More importantly are you over kissing your parents' friend?” Brian asked.

Melanie’s eyes widened as she looked at Erica. “You told him? Who else did you tell?”

“That surprises you? That I told Brian? What don’t I tell Brian?” Erica retorted.

“Yes I’m still seeing the same guy.”

“Well who is he?”


Erica’s body whipped around and her eyes widened. “Melanie! Are you insane? How is that going to help you get over what happened?”

Melanie wanted to groan. She had been dreading telling Erica because she’d feared the reaction. Now she knew that her fears weren’t unfounded. “Listen, I tried. I tried my damnedest for a month. It was not going to happen. I could not get him out of my mind and he was having the same problem so we’re going to give it a shot.”

“He is still twenty years older than you!”

Melanie feigned shock. “No! Thank you for letting me know because I would have never known that had you not said so!”

Brian laughed, earning a dirty look from Erica. Erica then returned her attention to Melanie. “You can’t do this. Think about what your parents will say.”

“If that is your only argument don’t bother. I’ve already told my parents and they didn’t forbid me or put their foot down or any of the other shit you’re about to spout.”

Erica turned around and went back to working on dinner to give herself a moment to think. “Melanie, he’s too old for you.”

“Its my life and I can make my own decisions. I’m well aware of the age difference and it isn’t bothering me. Nothing about dating Richard is bothering me.”

Erica stayed silent for several minutes. She was attempting to think of a way to make Melanie understand that she was making a mistake. “Mel, it’s a twenty year age difference. Don’t you think you’d be happier with someone your own age?”

Melanie rolled her eyes, growing irritated with Erica. “I don’t know what I have to say to make you understand!” She looked over at Brian. “You better hope you age well or she might have a problem.”

Brian laughed. “Thanks for the heads up.” He looked over at Erica. “Babe, maybe you need to listen to Melanie with an open mind.”

“I tried, Erica! But I could not make myself just move on after what happened. So what am I supposed to do? Just live with the what if and be unable to get him and what happened out of my mind? Or just take this chance?”

“I just don’t see why you couldn’t go the stereotypical way. Think of how much easier your life could be if you went for the blue eyed, blonde hair all american football player in high school!”

“I guess you forgot that I did date that guy and he turned into a jackass.”

“Then why’d you stay with him for so long?”

“Stupidity. Doesn’t change the fact that he was a jackass. Not all of us get the high school sweetheart love story like you did.”

“How’d Angela react when you told her?” Brian asked as he leaned against the counter opposite Melanie.

“She was stoked. Come on, its Angela. Would anyone expect anything less?”


Melanie received a call from Catherine on Friday morning. Catherine wanted to have lunch so that they could talk. At first Melanie felt a little hesitant about going to lunch with her mother. They hadn’t really talked since Melanie had broke the news that she was dating Richard and she knew that was what Catherine wanted to talk about. After thinking about it for a few moments she realized that it was impossible to avoid talking to her mother about things forever and agreed to meet her for lunch.

When she pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant where she was meeting her mother, Melanie felt her pulse accelerate. In the back of her mind she knew that it wasn’t going to be that bad but she couldn’t silence the little nagging thought that what if Catherine wasn’t so accepting about things after thinking about it. Pull yourself together,</i> she thought as she killed the car’s engine.

Catherine was already waiting inside the door when Melanie walked in. The corners of her lips pulled up when she spotted her only daughter walk through the door. Melanie’s face showed a hint of apprehension as she looked around for her mother. “I thought a buffet would be the easiest. I know you only get an hour for lunch,” Catherine said as she grabbed Melanie’s attention.

“Thanks, I appreciate it. You want to get our food then talk?”

“Yeah, I think we better.”

After they reached the table, both Melanie and Catherine took a few minutes to eat in silence. Catherine was deciding how she wanted to bring up Melanie's situation with Richard. Melanie was also thinking about how to begin the conversation but she hadn't figured out how to do that.

"You just wanted a salad? Are you not that hungry?" Catherine finally asked.

"Not really. Plus I have a date tonight."

Catherine couldn't stop herself from letting out a laugh. "I've been trying to figure out how to bring that up and you just did it so effortlessly. I wanted to talk to you about things without your father's thoughts getting in the way."

Melanie looked down at her salad and focused on stabbing a crouton. She suddenly felt like she was a teenager again as thought about how to responded to her mother. "I figured that's what you wanted to talk about."

"I'm not going to lecture you, Melanie, if that is what you are thinking. I realize you are an adult and I'm not going to act like I have the right to control who you chose to date. But I'm not thrilled about it either."

Melanie took a bite of her salad to buy a moment to think. "I'm not asking you to be thrilled about it. I didn't walk into Dad's office thinking it was going to go well when I told you guys, let alone think either of you would be anything close to happy about it. I didn't plan on this happening. It just happened and here I am."

"I support you though."

Melanie, having just taken a sip of her drink, coughed as she choked on some of the liquid. "I'm sorry, what?"

"I don't like the situation but I support you. I support you in making your own decisions and I will not tell you who to date or who not to date based on my own opinions. If you ask for my opinion then I'll give it to you but I refuse to force it on you."

"Give me a minute. I was not expecting that at all so I'm not really sure how to respond to that." Melanie took several bites of her salad as she processed what her mother had just told her. "I really appreciate that, Mom. But what does Dad think about all of this? Is he still throwing phone books across his office?"

Catherine laughed. "He's calmed down about it but I can't really answer for him. If you want to know how he really feels about things now you'll need to talk to him."

"I was afraid you were going to say that. Do you know how late he's going to be at the shop tonight?"

"Until about six, I think."