As You Please


“Hold on there,” Auston set his glass down against the bar and leaned closer to me, “You’re telling me you can wheel?” The brunettes warm breath tickled the skin on my face as my smile stretched wider. The glisten in his deep brown eyes made my heart race. Butterflies were bouncing off the walls in my stomach. Even my heart would flutter when the end of his smile would curl into a smirk.

“It was the whisky,” is what I kept telling myself. By the twentieth time of telling myself that, I was starting to question myself.

Was it really the whisky?

“I played hockey in secondary,” I admitted to the man with a huge smile, “I’m Canadian, how could I not?”

“You need to show me sometime,” the words flowed from his mouth without a moment of hesitation. When they hung in the air for a minute, a light shade of pink blanketed itself over the man's cheeks. We had discussed briefly what had happened on the bridge. He gave me words of advice, words to make me feel better, and words to make me realize I needed time.

After the first opening to our two-hour long conversation, I thought Auston was going to dive into my broken-hearted pants head first. I envisioned his enticing eyes and smile manipulating me into letting him into my now vacant apartment. I felt nervous when he spoke low, when his breath hit my face, when his hand gently rested on my knee when he was giving me a pep talk after I almost started sobbing in the middle of the bar while I spoke about who I thought I was dating.

“Yeah? It’s not that impressive.” I whispered as I grabbed my glass and swished the liquid around, trying to erase the thoughts from my mind. I could feel his eyes on me as I took a small sip and then blew a long stream of air from my lips. “I got a free ride to North Dakota State for hockey, but I turned it down.”

“You, what!” Auston screamed as he turned his head to look at me, eyes wider than I had seen them. “What are you some kind of retired prodigy?”

“No,” I laughed as I rubbed the back of my left arm nervously. “I loved hockey, but I was afraid of growing to hate it, ya know? I wanted it to be a passion not a profession. I went for Graphic Design instead, it’s been working out pretty well so far.” I shrugged as I looked up at the man and locked my eyes on his. “Hunter said it wasn’t a good idea, not ‘fiscally’ responsible, anyway.” I added the air quotes with my fingers as I felt a pang of seething hatred hit my chest.

Auston looked angry for a moment. His big brown eyes were holding mine in a stern yet gentle way. His lips were pressed into a tight line, like he was trying his hardest to keep his comments to himself. A part of me wanted to know what he was thinking. I wanted to hear his voice soothe me with more words about how I could do better and how life hits rock bottom only so when the good things happen they feel more euphoric. He was good with words, good with pulling someone out of their own head.

The brunette nodded once and grabbed his glass. After a long sip, he set the empty glass down and ran a hand through his hair. Through every motion, I couldn’t help but run my eyes over him. Every movement, every muscle, every inch of him was fascinating. He came off like his ego was the size of the room, but when he spoke he was humble and caring.

If it was an act, it fooled me.

“It’s almost 2:00am.” Auston whispered as he glanced at his phone full of notifications. After a second, he shut the screen off, shoved the phone back into his pocket, and turned to me.

“Yeah, I planned on being home two hours ago,” I admitted with a sheepish smile as I grabbed my glass and finished the last bit of golden liquid that was covering the bottom. For the fourth glass of whisky, it wasn’t affecting me like I had expected. I wasn’t sure what it was, but aside from every muscle in my body being relaxed, I didn’t feel the least bit tipsy.

As I set it back down, the bartender walked over and went to speak when Auston turned to me. “Will you let me pay for mine?” I asked as the brunette smiled at me.

“Absolutely not,” Auston gave the bartender a nod and then placed his hand on my knee. “It’s the least I can do for keeping you here so long.”

“I needed this.” I blurted out as I set my hand down on his. As the skin to skin contact hit me like a freight train, I felt the brunette gently press his fingertips deeper into my skin. After a sharp inhale, he nodded and then flipped his hand over, taking my hand in his.

Clearing his throat, he ran his thumb in a circle over the back of my hand and looked over at me. “It was nice talking to someone about nothing, you know?”

“Exactly,” I breathed as every droplet of blood rushed to my cheeks. As we stared at each other a little longer, I felt my heart beat slow in my chest. Every second I spent looking into his big brown eyes felt like an eternity. The world started to move in slow motion around me. All I could do was make a list of the colors that danced through his iris. I couldn’t feel anything but his thumb rubbing against my skin.

I was in a daydream.

“Let me walk you home?” Auston whispered, his breath hitting my ear as he leaned into me. Shutting my eyes, I took in a slow breath, letting the faint smell of cologne fill my senses. After a wave of dizziness washed over me, I nodded and watched as his smile came back into view.

What a smile.

Nodding, I carefully pulled myself from the chair and stood up. Grabbing my jacket, I shrugged into it and then wrapped the scarf around my neck. Pulling my bag onto my shoulder, I looked up and watched as Auston signed a slip of paper on the bar and then set the pen down.

I couldn’t help but notice the forty dollar tip on the sixty dollar bill. I wanted to ask. I wanted to poke and prod and figure out what he exactly did to be leaving a massive tip, but just as I was about to open my mouth, the brunette set his large hand on the small of my back and motioned to the door.

“Good to go?”

I nodded, my body unable to produce a response. As we walked side by side to the door, he pushed it open and held it open as I walked through. The second I was outside, a strong wind whipped at my face, knocking the last bit of alcohol out of my system.

It was easy to get lost in the daydream I found while I was warm and cozy in the middle of a bar. Now, out in the middle of the city, I felt reality start to sink back in. Who I was, where I was, and what was going on was in the front of my mind. The sound of his voice over the phone started to sink back into my head.

The shake in my limbs that started when I heard her voice started to return.

“It’s a short walk.”

“No worries.” Auston offered as a response as I took a step toward the end of the block. As he followed next to me, he shoved his hands deep into his coat pockets and sucked in a short stream of air.

He seemed nervous.

“I really can’t thank you enough for all of this,” I broke the silence as we reached the end of the block. As a few cars whizzed by, I turned to him and flashed a wide smile. “I’m kind of happy you walked by the meltdown.”

Auston laughed at this, breaking the tension that was hanging in the air around us. A deep sigh left my chest as he smiled over at me. I hadn’t realized how tense I had gotten until the feeling vanished from my muscles. The brunette pulled his arm from his side and draped it over my shoulders, pulling me into his side. “I appreciated the company.”

“Ditto.” I whispered and watched as the little sign for us to cross lit up. As we started walking, steps in sync, I felt myself lean into him. I didn’t want to. I was afraid of giving off the wrong impression, sending the wrong signals, but he was so intoxicating. So unlike everything in my life going on. So new and interesting that I couldn’t help but let every aspect of him distract me from reality.

When I looked at him, when I let his scent fill my sinuses and voice echo through my mind, I was somewhere else.

I was happy.

Through the rest of the walk, we didn’t talk about anything important. He asked me about food and coffee. We discovered our mutual hatred for mushrooms and spinach. I explained to him why when we ate spinach, his teeth would feel strange. He asked about my favorite rink in the city, the kind of skates I wore and the stick I used to play with.

When I was in the middle of telling him how I almost fought someone in the pee-wee league I played in, I realized I was standing in the lobby of my apartment building. It was him and I, in the corner of the room, standing close, engulfed in one another.

As the last words of the story left my lips, I looked up at his smiling face and felt the edge of my lips start to sink down.

I didn’t want to go upstairs.

I didn’t want to leave this fairytale.

“You’re going to be fine, Tess.”


“Yeah, I know.” I breathed as I looked straight into the man's chest. “I just, thought I was ready. I mean, I am, I’m exhausted, but-”

“I understand,” he whispered as he placed a hand on my shoulder. After a few seconds of me staring into his eyes, begging him to sweep me off my feet and drag me to another bar, another room, another world, I felt his hand move from my shoulder to my cheek. “You’re going to be fine.” His thumb ran a few circles over my cheek.

As I melted into his hand, he pulled it away, like he knew if he kept it there something would happen.

“I should.” I whispered, my eyes dropping to our feet.

We stood in silence for nearly five minutes before Auston let out a shaky sigh. “Get a good night's rest.” The brunette pulled me into a hug, resting his chin on the top of my head. I could hear his heart pounding as I rested my head against his chest. I knew my heart was matching the tempo of his.

I hoped he couldn’t hear it.

“I’ll see you around?” His voice seemed hesitant. His words seemed forced.

I felt my heart breaking.

“Yeah.” I breathed and took a step back.

His eyes were in mine. I wanted to speak. I wanted to press face into his chest again. I wanted to hide in his arms. I wanted to ask him for his phone number. I wanted to be him to stay, beg him not to leave.

“I… Yeah.” He gave me a tight smile, “Goodnight Tessa.”

“Night Auston.” I squeaked and watched as he hesitated for a moment before turning on his heels and heading to the door. Once he pulled it, he took a deep breath, straightened his back and then took a step outside, shaking his head. As the man disappeared into the city, I felt a wave of adrenaline rush through my veins.

My heart was pounding painfully as I sprinted toward the door. Pushing it open, I stumbled onto the sidewalk, looking to my right, I felt my chest tighten as I watched the man walking back toward the door. When he looked up at me, he laughed.

“I couldn’t-” We both spoke and then paused as we walked up to each other under the nearest street lamp. As the light bathed us, I looked up at the brunette and let out a deep sigh. “You first,” I motioned and watched as he nodded and then took a step closer to me, his hand deep in his pocket.

“I couldn’t chance us bumping into each other again.”

“Yeah.” I agreed, a huge weight lifting from my shoulders.

“I really enjoyed the company, plus I have to see those hands,” he sent me a wink as he pulled out his cell phone and quickly unlocked it. As he handed the phone to me, I looked up at him and felt my smile grow wider. My mind was running through thoughts as I entered his name in. My heart was beating so fast I could barely feel it.

It all seemed so surreal.

When I handed the phone back, he dialed my number and smiled when he heard the buzzing from my pocket. Pulling my phone out, I watched as he ended the call and then stuck his hand out. Placing the phone in his fingers, I watched as he typed away and then shut the phone off and handed it back to me.

“I’m really happy you came back.” Auston’s voice was a whisper as he looked at me with bright eyes. “Just remember I’m here for you through this, okay? I know it’s going to be hard.”

Reality sunk back into my head for the fifth time.

“I appreciate it.” I pulled the man into a quick hug and let go before I lost my train of thought again. “I should… make sure everything’s still in order up there.” I swallowed hard and glanced up at him, “I’ll talk to you soon?”


With a wink, Auston turned on his heels and headed back down the block, his back straight and head up. Once he was a block away, I watched as he punched his fists in the air, gave himself a small high-five, then regained his composure and kept walking.

Once he turned the block, I let out a sigh and felt the weight of the world start to pile back on my shoulders. The daydream was over. Prince Charming was gone. I needed to face the music, face what my life had come to in a matter of hours.

I headed into the lobby and walked straight to the elevator. I wanted to ask the man in the lobby if he had seen Hunter leave. I wanted to know if my apartment was half full or completely occupied. I didn’t want to call the cops. I didn’t want to have a talk. I wanted him out of my life. I wanted to mourn the loss of the last six years, I wanted to cry myself to sleep because everything was moving to fast and part of me didn’t want it to slow down.

The doors to the elevator parted. I took two steps into, pressed the 14 circle and watched the large silver doors shut in front of me. Through the whole ride, I could feel my nerves growing weaker and weaker. Every number closer to fourteen, I could feel my stomach knot harder and harder. I was terrified to see him. Terrified to hear his voice. I didn’t know what I would do.

I didn’t want to know.

I had reached my floor with a loud ding of the elevator. When the doors parted, the hallway was empty. Every step, I could feel sweat form and drip down the back of my neck. My hands were shaking, my stomach was sick, and my head was throbbing.

“Please,” I whispered to myself as I stuck my key into the doorknob. Turning it, I heard a few clicks and then the door pushed open. Biting down on my lip, I took a few steps in and felt the cold air hit my face. There was no TV on, no radio, no sizzle of food on the stove, no hum of someone walking around.

It was empty.

He was gone.

Kicking the door shut, I walked through the apartment. As I looked at all of the places small things were missing, I felt my mind start to detach from my body. This had all happened, he had really cheated on me. After everything, all of the highs and lows, all of the future plans we were making, he was unfaithful.

When I reached our bedroom, I looked down and noticed that the other sheets were on the bed. The back up pair if we had started laundry too late and didn’t have them dry in time for us to sleep. He at least had the decency of changing the sheets.

I felt my stomach get sick.

He slept with her in our bed.

Walking over to the mattress, I sat down and dropped my head into my hands. Without warning, a hard sob left my lips as I laid back and looked up at the ceiling. The sheets were hard against my skin and smelled like our linen closet. Rolling onto my stomach, I pressed my face into the sheets and cried harder. As I screamed sobs into the stale linens, I felt my cell phone buzz in my pocket.

Pulling myself together for a minute, I grabbed the phone and brought the screen to my face. Blinking away tears, I looked at the notification and sighed. Unlocking the phone, I clicked on my messages and watched as his name popped up. Opening the conversation, I ran my eyes over his messages and felt a new gush of tears start to leak from my eyes as a sob ripped through my raw throat.

It was from Auston.

You’ll get through this. Don’t forget I’m here for you. Call me whenever you need someone to talk to.