Chapter 12: Let It Be

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When Naya walked into her house she unceremoniously tossed her purse on the coffee table and kicked her heels off, tossing them on the couch before going to the kitchen for a glass of water. She took a sip and pulled her hair back into a loose bun, letting out a long and drawn out sigh before she leaned her forearms onto the island counter. Her eyes blankly stared forward at nothing in particular as her thumb unconsciously ran up and down the side of her water glass.

She was completely in her head and had practically been on autopilot since she left the restaurant. Everything on her end of the escape plan had gone off without a hitch. The manager had come by their table about three minutes after Heather left and escorted Naya to her car, which was waiting in the alleyway behind the restaurant just like Derek said it would. Though her nerves had been jumping while she sat at the table, when it came time to accomplish their haphazard escape plan she was almost robotic, automatic and efficient in completing the task. Then all along the way home a sickening feeling gradually seeped into her bones, like her stomach kept falling into a bottomless pit.

Everything just felt off course and certainly nothing about the way the night ended felt right. Naya felt that it was like an action scene from a James Bond movie had been randomly injected into a romantic comedy. Nothing fit or corresponded the way it was supposed to. And while her outward expression seemed quite numb due to the sheer exhaustion of the now yo-yo like quality of her daily life, her insides were screaming for her to find a way to make everything feel right. To have those blissful, enlivening moments, like the night Heather came over just to kiss her, or when they were wrapped up in their blanket looking out over the city, or those lazy afternoons they'd spent together. Those moments that tended to unexpectedly sneak up on her felt like heaven and she so desperately wanted tonight to feel that way too. But it didn't work out that way, at least not the way it ended.

Naya slid forward on the counter top, clutching the water glass with both hands as her arms stretched out. She bent her head down and closed her eyes as her forehead rested on the cool marble.

This isn't how the night was supposed to end. I don't know what I was expecting but not this. It wasn't supposed to feel like this. Like everything is a dead end. This isn't how it was supposed to go. I should've known better. Of course something would go wrong. And now we're back to square-one.

She let out a deep and frustrated sigh, bringing her head up and her arms crossed inward so she could rest her chin on her arms. She immediately saw her breakfast table across the way and after a moment let out a helpless little chuckle, remembering her and Heather playing with whipped cream. Then she began reflecting on some of their conversation from that morning.

Maybe Heather's right. I'm putting too much pressure on myself. On us. On what I think we should be doing or how it should go. On what I think dating should look like...Am I forcing it? Am I forcing some sort of pre-conceived notion about dating on us?

She could faintly hear the ringtone of her phone as it buzzed in her purse on the coffee table and it brought her out of her thoughts. She walked over to the table, digging her phone out of her purse. Heather was calling.

Just seeing her name flash across the screen was comforting and she smiled as she answered. "Hey."

"Hey." Heather sounded like she finally had a moment to breath and her voice was slightly nasally, as if she were laying down, possibly on her bed. "Did you make it home okay?"

"Yeah, not a whole lot of traffic." Naya started twisting from side to side at her waist, hesitant but insanely curious for the answer to her next question. "So how'd everything go?"

"Good. Marcus is a nice guy. He's the driver Derek sent."

Naya let out a soft laugh. Of course Heather would disregard any possible negativity and instead instantly think of the new person she got to meet. "No, I mean outside, with the paparazzi. Did they give you any trouble?"

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