Until You Met Me

Eighty Three

“I forgot. Do you take sugar in your tea?”

Molly blinked dazedly, pulling her stare away from her feet to glance up at the man who stood over her, a tentative smile pulling at his lips. It had taken her a while to decide where to go. Once she had gotten out of the house, and away from Gerard, she had stopped in a nearby car park and spent nearly an hour deliberating about where she ought to go next, but eventually, she had opted to call a friend from work, knowing that there was little chance that Gerard would find her, or that she would have to spend the evening explaining what had happened to her relatives.

She was hurting. After Gerard had admitted that he and Ava had kissed, Molly’s mind had gone blank apart from the searing pain she’d felt, but it wasn’t something that she wanted her parents or Poppy to see, not until she had had time to process it. There was an explanation that she needed to hear, and until she had heard it, she didn’t want her family to know what was happening. She didn’t want them to try and put themselves between her and Gerard until she knew it was something she needed.

“Sorry” Molly murmured “What did you say?” she asked.

Albert nodded toward the mug in his hand. “Sugar?” he asked.

Molly shook her head. “No, thank you” she answered.

“You’d think I would know that” Albert chirped as he placed the cup down ahead of her “I’ve been making you tea at work for almost a year” he added.

Molly smiled half-heartedly, grateful for his attempt to lift the mood. “I don’t hate it with sugar in” she mused “So, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been putting it in there. I forgive you” she added.

Albert smiled around the top of his own cup, but whatever he was about to say was stopped when Molly’s phone, which sat on the coffee table ahead of her, vibrated. Slowly leaning forwards, she sighed at the sight of Gerard’s name on the screen before she picked it up, declining the call. Placing the phone back onto the table, she reclined into her seat again before she looked up, catching the look of concern on Albert’s face. “What?” she asked.

Albert held his hands up. “I won’t ask” he quipped.

Molly deflated slightly, rubbing her forehead gently. “I texted him when I got here” she said “My...my boyfriend. I told him that I was somewhere safe and that I didn’t want to talk yet. He’s the worst at giving me space when we are fighting” she added, a pained smile flitting across her features.

Albert smiled back sympathetically. “Can I ask what happened?” he asked.

Molly’s answer was a small, tight shrug. “I don’t even think I could explain it if I wanted to” she mused “I had a fight with my friend, and Gerard thought that, despite my telling him not to, he could try and make it better. I don’t know the specifics of what happened next, but he told me that they’d kissed, and I just...I ran away. I couldn’t comprehend it. I had to get out of there” she added.

“He kissed your friend?” Albert’s voice was soft, but still incredulous.

Molly flinched, but nodded her head. “He said she kissed her” she corrected “But I don’t know how much that really matters. I...I don’t know what happened, but once I heard that...I knew she was always weird about him, but I never thought that...that she could have...” she trailed off on a soft whimper, squeezing her eyes closed to keep the tears from coming.

Albert pushed himself up from his seat and crossed to sit down next to her, drawing Molly into a hug that she sunk into, crying gently. “Do you want me to call someone?” he asked “I can call Sofia” he added.

Molly shook her head against his chest. “I...I just need some space” she murmured.

Albert nodded. “I’m sorry that I can only offer you the sofa” he mused “But, you can stay here for as long as you want” he added.

Molly picked her head up, smiling at him tearfully. “Thank you” she said.

“Don’t thank me yet” Albert chirped “I wake up ridiculously early, and I am very noisy. The sofa is lumpy, too” he added.

Molly laughed, again grateful for the change of subject.

Albert offered her one more smile before he stood up. “Do you want a t-shirt or something to sleep in?” he asked.

“Is that OK?” Molly asked.

“I’ll grab one” Albert quipped before he disappeared from the room, returning a handful of seconds later with a t-shirt and some blankets in hand. Handing the t-shirt over, he stepped back into the hall, gesturing to a door a little way along it “The bathroom is there. There’s a spare toothbrush in the cupboard under the sink. Is there anything else I need to mention?” he asked.

Molly shook her head.

Albert flashed her another small smile. “Things might look better in the morning” he quipped “Night, Molly” he added.

Molly offered him a little wave, a rueful smile on her face. She didn't believe it for a second. “Night, Albert” she replied.

Albert stepped out of the doorway, leaving Molly alone for a moment before she padded towards the bathroom. Quickly changing into the t-shirt that Albert had given to her, she washed her face and brushed her teeth before she wandered back towards the living room. Setting up the blankets, she sunk down into the sofa and rested her head back against a pillow, the silence of the room ringing in her ears until her phone vibrated again. Turning onto her side, she stared at the phone until it stopped making a noise before she reached out and picked it up. Tapping the screen a few times, she saw that Gerard had left a voicemail, something which caused her to pause for a moment before she pressed play, allowing his voice to fill the otherwise silent room.

“I know you said you weren’t ready to talk” Gerard said “And I am not surprised that you didn’t answer. I won’t be surprised if you delete this without listening to it, either, but I just...I know how it sounded, and I know that you’re hurt, but you’re not at your parents, Pop’s or Sofia’s, and I am worried. You texted earlier and said that you were safe, but I am still worried. I want you to know that I am here when you’re ready to talk, even if that is just to yell at me or tell me that I should have kept my nose out. Right now, I would settle for a lecture. I love you, Molly, I hope you know that” he added.

Molly stared at the phone tearfully. She didn’t know what had happened. She had cut Gerard off before he had had the chance to explain, too hurt by his initial revelation to absorb anything else, but she didn’t quite know that there was anything he could say that would make it hurt less.