With the back of my hand, I was lightly tapping on the door that led to Juniper’s apartment. It was the morning after her run-in with Monroe, and I wanted to check on her. I hadn’t known Juniper that long but had come to realize just how easy it was for her to pull away from everything when she was dealing with something. Something she’d confided in me about and vowed to do better with. I wanted to help her achieve that in whatever way that I could, regardless of the resistance I was sure to be met with.
To my surprise, she wasn't sending me away. I could hear her fumbling with the locks before the door cracked open. She peaked at me through the space between the door frame and the chain lock, glancing down at the bags of Waffle House in my hand.
“Ooh, you know you’re wrong,” she sighed.
“I was desperate.”
The corners of her lips turned up as she smiled. I was confused when the door closed but didn’t immediately open with the exclusion of her lock. Before I could further wonder what she was doing, she returned and allowed me inside. Not before trying to trade off her food with a trash bag she needed to be taken to the dumpster.
“You’re not going to take this and lock me out, are you?”
How I ended up being Benjamin again was another reason I’d stopped by. One day, I was Benji. Babe. Now? Benjamin. As if I’d done something to her.
“Can I get a kiss?”
Despite the shaking of her head, Juniper pulled my face towards hers, pecking my lips.
“Now, hurry up before I change my mind,” she warned.
My hand smacked her ass the moment she turned to go inside. She giggled, not even bothering to look back at me. Knowing that her threat could very well become a promise, I quickly jogged out towards the dumpster. After taking advantage of the hand sanitizer dispenser outside, I headed back towards her apartment.
I’d known Juniper for several months now and couldn’t even begin to explain the dynamic of our relationship. She wasn’t my girl. And we were closer than friends. Even though we hadn’t spoken in about two weeks. I wasn’t sure what I had said or done, but whatever it was scared her. Just as quickly as she let her guard down and allowed me in, it had risen, and she was pushing me back. I tried to give her some space, but I knew I needed to check on her after yesterday.
She left the door to her apartment unlocked, and as I made my way through the living room, towards the kitchen, I was able to locate her eating at the island countertop. I knew that she was starving because she would typically place food from a to-go container on an actual dish. That way she could eat without worrying about the Styrofoam falling apart.
“Let me find out you haven’t been eating.”
“I have. Just not today.”
The closer that I got, I was able to see that she had helped herself to a few bites of my chocolate chip waffles. I didn’t even bother asking her about it, knowing that her answer would be they looked good, and she wanted to try them. This was the stuff that I’d been missing from her, and I was ready to get back to it. But I knew it wouldn’t be as easy as I wanted. I took the seat next to hers, and we ate in silence. She only spoke long enough to thank me for the meal.
I began to wonder if the time we spend apart had done her some good, but I knew that it was still something we needed to address. I did things with her the right way. I had just moved into the apartment across from hers, liked what I saw, and asked her out. I thought she was going to be one of those saddity chicks who liked playing games and acting like they were hard to get, but she actually agreed. I’ll admit the first date was awkward. She was onlylooking to hook up, while I was actually interested in getting inside of her head. Not inside of her pants. Even then, knowing that I had somehow managed to embarrass her when I made my intentions clear, she didn’t detach from me. She actually opened up to me a bit, and I did the same.
Within the past year, I’d managed to be promoted to a junior executive at the financial company I worked with, which resulted in me relocating from Houston all the way to Dallas. Aside from the moving company, Juniper was the first person I met. And I had to admit, she was worth it. Her life wasn’t one that I couldn’t relate to. It had always been just her and her mom until she passed away. Me on the other hand, I had both parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everything else in my life. I didn’t know what it was like to lose your entire family in a single day. That was a pain I couldn’t imagine, so I was understanding of her and the way she operated. She was used to being by herself, doing things her way and when she wanted. I was different in the sense that I preferred a bit more structure, but together, we really did make it work.
I think she assumed I would’ve been turned off by her past relationships, the company, she kept, and Monroe’s situation, but I didn’t care. Everybody made mistakes, and I could look past all of her flaws, knowing that she was doing what she had to in order to make better decisions. We laid everything out on the table for one another. It seemed as if we were on the same page and wanting the same things.
We agreed to take things slow and just see what would happen. Usually, when that was the scenario, I did keep a few other options lined up. But Juniper? She had me so gone that I could only focus on her. I could only focus on making sure she was good and taken care of. She, in turn, did the same for me. That’s why I was tripping off the fact she was able to just detach from me. I hadn’t done anything. It just seemed as if I had gotten too close, and she got scared.
I thought back to our last date. It was a night to remember as they always were. I had gotten her back to her door safely, but she didn’t invite me inside as she normally would have. We were simply saying our goodbyes, embracing, kissing, when tears began rolling down her face. She assured me that she was fine, but here we were, weeks later and I knew that it wasn’t true.
“You ready to tell me what’s up?” I asked.
She didn’t speak immediately. She shoved what remained of her waffles into her mouth before cleaning her plate. I could hear her taking a deep breath as she stood behind me, wrapping her arms around my neck. Her lips kissed the side of my face as she rested her head on my shoulder.
Her hold loosened as she ultimately let me go. I did appreciate the apology, but it’s not what I asked her for. She took back her seat and looked at me.
“I told you how I was,” she shrugged.
“Yeah, but not with me, right?”
“I’m sorry... I- I... I just didn’t want anything to change.”
When her cheeks flushed, I knew exactly what she was talking about. Sex. We hadn’t done the deed but had come close plenty of times. She would always stop me, and it had never been an issue when she did. So I had no idea why that was her reasoning for pulling away from me.
“Things change. And sometimes it’s not for the better. And I really, really enjoy where we are.”
“I understand that. However, we can’t stay in the same space forever. Us and our relationship will eventually grow. Don’t you want to see that happen?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Good. Then, don’t run from me. And tell me shit like this. You don’t have to be embarrassed, scared, or whatever it was that had you ghost me.”
“It’s just a habit.”
“One, we’re going to break.”
Juniper nodded her head up and down, pulling me in for a hug. I wrapped my arms around her waist, placing a kiss on her cheek. I would’ve loved nothing more than to have stayed and continued this conversation, but I had to be on my way and get my day started.
“How you feel?”
“I’m good. Better now,” she smiled.
“That’s what I like to hear. Am I seeing you later?”
“What do I need to do to make that a yes?”
“I’ll let you know.”
She walked me towards the door, and after saying our goodbyes, I was let out. I was a man of action, and seeing as how I wanted to see her later, I knew something that would make that maybe a yes.
Okay. Benjamin! I wonder what he has up his sleeve 🤔. What are y'all thinking so far? Feel free to leave a comment below and lets chat 🙂. As always, have a great week! Until next time.