Chapter 9 - It's a Dream

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Richard couldn't sleep that night. He fought the urge to toss and turn, careful not to wake Mia, who snoozed next to him. He wasn't sure of what was keeping him up; it was a mix of emotions, but mostly sadness. Melancholy.

He didn't want Mia to leave the next morning. It was simple; he didn't want to see her go, to get on a plane and leave him. He knew it was selfish, and that there was time for them to meet again, but he preferred continuity. The way the week had turned out to be was why he never wanted it to end. He sensed that Mia felt the same way as well, or else she never would have asked him to stay the night; and he had agreed to even if he didn't have any spare clothes with him. He didn't care at all.

In the darkness emerged the sounds from outside — the car horns in the distance, the tires brushing against asphalt. Sometimes, a yell from a drunkard echoed off the buildings; the city was busy, and it never stopped.

Richard checked the time on his phone. It was almost three in the morning, and at that point, he decided for himself that he wasn't going to sleep anymore. He knew that caffeine and nicotine would do him good for most of the day, so he surrendered himself to modern-day handcuffs, browsing through social media to pass the time.

The bright light of the screen pierced through Mia's eyelids, irritating her awake. She opened her eyes slowly, quietly hissing at the stinging sensation that jogged her pupils. She rubbed her eyes, adjusting to the light.

Richard felt movement to his right and he peered over, immediately apologizing. "Sorry," he whispered, lowering the brightness of the screen. "Did I wake you?"

Mia wasn't fully conscious. She rolled around to her side, away from the disturbance. She groaned and closed her eyes again, making Richard chuckle. Her back was turned to him now, and he couldn't help but think about how the night would be if things had been poles apart. For instance, if she wasn't with Brett, how would the air feel? If she wasn't leaving for New York in a few hours, where would they have gone out for drinks? Would they even be home at this hour?

Richard knew all the answers to his inquiries already. He laid them out in his head, one by one.

Has Mia stopped thinking about me ever since she got with Brett? I'll be damned. If only they weren't together. God, I'm a fucking arse. I should be happy that she's happy, but I'm not. Maybe she isn't either? But that's... that's stupid. She's not a child. She could leave if she wanted to, if she knew that the relationship was making her miserable. She would know better than to put up with it.

But I don't want her to leave. Ugh! We'd be out getting drunk at this hour. Mia's funny when she's drunk, but she can be quite a struggle. I wonder if she still likes to dance when she's plastered. She'd always have the best moves, was just too shy about it sober. I don't even think she's aware of her talent.

He lied on his side, watching Mia's body rise and fall with each breath. Staring at her brunette mane, he caught a whiff of her shampoo and imagined his nose nuzzled between the strands, holding her closely. The lights were off, but he could imagine it clearly, and it drove him completely mad.

I can't believe you met Brett. I can't believe myself for not realizing my feelings sooner. Where did you go, Mi? What were you doing while I was away in LA, Paris? It's crazy for me not to know, because I usually do. I mean, I used to, when I wasn't being the douchebag who started ignoring your calls.

I really did that, didn't I? I really pushed you away, that far?

Mia rolled onto her back, but her head continued leftward, her face meeting Richard's. It startled him for a second, but her eyes were still closed, her hands on the waistband of her pajama pants. She didn't snore, but she breathed loudly, which sounded similar. Her jaw shifted and her lips opened slightly, letting the air seep freely, in and out. Richard eyed them, still lost in his thoughts.

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