Status: Completed

Chasing the Missing Paths

The Tenth Encounter

The ninth encounter had led to the tenth encounter. Once again, it was planned, but would not have happened if it weren’t for the unexpected one just a week before. Alex put the two names on the guest list and told them to be early so they could hang out again. He really did want to catch up with Emma and he couldn’t do that if they arrived when he had to play and left as soon as the show was over. So, he told them to come even before the support band played so they could either listen to the music together or continue their conversation as well. He had no idea if they could stay after the show for a couple of drinks, but he really hoped so.

Alex was even a little nervous when the time came around for them to arrive. He was sitting in the green room with the rest of the band and had been excited for so long that he was now worried it wasn’t going to live up to his expectations. What if things got awkward between them? What if he accidentally brought up what happened in Iceland in front of her boyfriend and caused something? What if he and Emma didn’t hit it off like they always had before? It all made his leg bounce up and down, annoying everybody else in the room.

“Dude, can you please stop shaking your leg!” Jack finally groaned, making everybody else in the room sigh in relief when Alex stopped. “I don’t know why your ass is all nervous, but it’s just Emma.”

Alex gave Jack a long annoyed look. To Alex, Jack had no idea what happened between him and Emma. Even Alex had tried to ignore it for all those years, but he couldn’t do that anymore, especially if he was going to have to be nice to her boyfriend. While he definitely should have, Alex had never regretted sleeping with Emma. Sure, it had been a little awkward, but that was only because he was in a relationship. If he hadn’t been, who knew how things would have ended? And Jack was just acting like it wasn’t a big deal.

“I know what happened, but you’re freaking out way too much over this,” Jack said, shaking his head at Alex.

“You know what happened?” Alex frowned. He doubted Jack actually knew what he was thinking of. It was more likely that Jack remembered the party and thought that he felt bad about that. “No, you don’t.”

“Umm, yes I do,” Jack insisted. “I spoke to Emma two years ago not long after it had happened. I ran into her in LA. And I called her, like, a year ago.”

“Wait, what happened?” Rian butted in, wanting to know what was going on.

“Hang on. You saw her and got her phone number without telling me?” Alex exclaimed, completely ignoring Rian’s question.

“Why would I have told you?” Jack retorted and crossed his arms. “You were together with Megan, it shouldn’t matter to you. If you really cared and wanted to make contact, you could have just sent a message like before.”

“So you slept with her as well?!” Alex’s voice sounded angry, but on the inside he felt his heart drop. Although it was something quick and unromantic, he always thought what he had done with Emma was at least a little special. If she had slept with his best friend as well just mere weeks after, then he didn’t know what to feel.

“No, but you did,” Jack blurted out. Making Alex turn red and causing Rian and Zack to look at him like he had two heads. “She was afraid she ruined your relationship with Megan, so I promised I would tell her if it ever happened. I called her when you and Megan broke up because I forgot the exact terms for our promise and I thought she would be happy. But she was already way past moving on from it.”

“Okay, great. And I should care because…?”

“Well, you shouldn’t, but you literally just got mad at me for not telling you I saw her and that I have her phone number.”

“Yeah, you’re right, I’m sorry,” Alex apologized, feeling ashamed. “Anyway, her boyfriend seemed really nice, you guys will see when you meet him.”

Everybody dropped the subject even though Zack and Rian had so many questions including how it happened, when it happened, and how it was. But they could sense too that it wasn’t something Alex really wanted to talk about. They felt like he was trying to hide his emotions behind being happy for her. But in actuality, Alex really did think that James was a good match for Emma, especially with how long they knew each other.

When Emma was finally led to the green room by a crew member, she excitedly hugged every member. However, there was something missing, something very clearly missing.

After they had sat her down on the lounge chair in the green room while they occupied the couches, Jack asked the question everybody was wondering, “wait, where’s your boyfriend? Alex said we’d get to meet him?”

Emma gave an answer Alex did not expect at all, “oh, he’s not coming.”

“No?” Alex questioned, afraid he had maybe found out about their history and that he didn’t want to come because of that.

“It’s complicated,” she brushed off.

Everybody respected that she didn’t want to give the exact answer; everybody except Jack. He gave her a look that repeated the words he had said two years before: ‘don’t bottle it up, you need to talk about it’.

So, she spilled it all. “Okay, fine I’ll tell you. James got a job offer in Minnesota, accepted it, and is needed there already in a week. This morning, he proposed and asked me to move with him, but I couldn’t say yes to either question. He’s back at my apartment now, packing all his stuff. He should be gone before I come back.”

“Oh, shit…” Jack apologized. He knew there was something she was hiding, but he didn’t expect it to be this serious. The most he expected was that her boyfriend--or now ex--didn’t want to come along anymore because he didn’t like somebody in the band or the music. But this was super personal.

“Yeah.” Emma shrugged and leaned back in the chair. “I wonder what I would have said if he proposed to me and there was no Minnesota to move to… Is it bad that I don’t know? I mean, it doesn’t really matter, because I said no now, but still.”

“I don’t think it’s bad,” Rian stated before she got a biased opinion from either Jack or Alex. “It just means you weren’t ready for that step. It doesn’t mean you don’t love somebody.”

“Yeah, I guess…” she took it as an explanation and used to make herself feel a little less confused about her feelings.”I don’t even understand why he’d ask me to move out to Minnesota, where there’s nothing for me. Especially knowing I finally got a job on Broadway.”

“You got a job on Broadway? That a reason to celebrate, though!” Alex exclaimed, trying to lighten up the mood and take her mind off the break-up.

“Weirdly enough I’m not upset,” Emma made clear before everybody was acting like they had to walk on eggshells around her and was constantly trying to cheer her up. “Maybe it’s just taking a while to hit me, maybe I won’t be upset until I wake up alone a few mornings in a row. Although the circumstances should cause the opposite, I don’t feel like this was a bad breakup. I’m actually excited to see you guys again, that’s all.”

“And that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for not feeling sad,” Rian advised, feeling like that was what was going on inside of her. She was more confused about not feeling upset than she actually was upset.

“Wait…” Jack came in with an inappropriate statement and looked in between Alex and Emma. “Does this mean that you guys are both single at the same time for the first time?”

Alex and Emma shared a look, and it was indeed true.
♠ ♠ ♠
Just realized I never posted this part here... oops.

Here's why there can't be a spontaneous proposal without some time in between. I don't think Emma will say yes to Alex shortly after saying no to her boyfriend and going through a breakup. She's too confused about what happened to do that.

Also, I do have the final chapter written now!