Awoken by some loud banging Esmée sat up in bed with a startled meep. Apartment living. As the drowsiness cleared from her senses she realized it was her door they were banging on.
Jumping out of bed she tentatively made it down the small hallway and stood there, wondering if she should call the police when she heard her name called.
“Forrest? I mean Nicholas?” she asked.
“Heyyy babyyy..” he slurred from the other side of the door.
Ezzy opened she saw Nicholas holding himself upright by leaning up to the wall right as a neighbor peeked out of their door complaining
“Can you PLEASE keep it down?!!!”
“Yes, sure sorry!” Esmée said apologetically. Dammit Nick! she thought.
“Fuck you man!” Nicholas slurred.
“I apologize, he doesn’t mean it. Bachelor party…. sorry – again.” Ezzy lied as she was pulling Nick into her apartment and gave the door a push, it fell shut right as he collapsed into her arms.
Too heavy for her small frame to support it ended up sending both of them to the ground in her apartment,
“What the hell, Nick?! Are you drunk?!”
“I am sorry… so sorry…I didn’t know where else to go… I can’t … just can’t… sorry…” he slurred almost crying then hugged her.
“It’s okay … just scared me a bit…”
“I am gonna be sick!”
“Oh no! This way, come on…”
They barely made it in time for him to empty the contents of his stomach into her toilet.
After they were sure no more would come out of him, she helped him get cleaned up and undressed, save his boxer shorts.
Once he was freed from bad odor and taste in his mouth potentially bringing on another bout of nausea, she took him to her bedroom.
He was clingy and emotional.
Once she got him settled in, speaking softly to him like you would a sick child.
He looked embarrassed and guilty, but grateful, barely fought her and fell asleep fast.
Ezzy cleaned the bathroom, then got some water, placing it on the nightstand for Nicholas. After sitting up worrying for a bit, she settled down to sleep on the couch, interrupted only by him slipping in next to her in the middle of the night.
The next morning she made coffee and breakfast for them, he seemed content, despite him being obviously miserable.
They had rekindled their friendship over the past weeks, been out to eat or for coffee a few times now, even visited each other for a movie night with popcorn. He had not tried to come on to her since that first night so she went along with it all.
Not two weeks after his late night drunken visit she was awoken by a call on a Friday morning at around 2 AM. Caller ID read Nick.
“Why are you calling me so late – or early – or whatever?” she groaned into the phone.
“I broke my car …” his voice was slurred again.
“Are you drunk?” she was wide awake instantly.
“A little … lot … sorry…”
“You are not trying to drive, are you?”
“Not anymore… tree stopped me….car won’t turn back on and I don’t know where I am … I am scared … Ezzy …” he started crying, obviously very intoxicated.
“Forr… umm.. Nick are you hurt? I am calling an ambulance …”
“NO! I am drunk … I’d go to jail. Lose my job and be debarred!” he sounded panicked now.
“You actually drove the car?! Drunk!? Did you hit anyone? Are you bleeding? Can you move?!” Ezzy went into a panic.
“No … nobody’s hurt … Ezzy…” he started sobbing again.
“OK, where are you? Is there a street sign? What city? Anything?”
“No, look at your phone, pull up a Map App and tell me where it says you are.”
“I need to hear your voice, please don’t leave me! Ezzy!” he cried out, sobbing.
“I am here, if the call drops, I’ll call you back, I promise, now focus and do what I told you, I am getting dressed, coming to get you!”
His foggy mind finally managed to work the App, as he told her the location, she was already in her car, programming her GPS and drove into the night.
And found him.
She loaded him into her car, called a towing truck, told them a story about him working too much, momentarily nodding off while driving and veering off the road, it seemed plausible.
He could deal with his car repair and insurance whenever.
She drove him home, at her apartments the elevators were out again and she didn’t think she could drag him up all those flights of stairs.
At his place she stood by while he puked his guts out. Again.
Once more she helped him clean up, then supported him to his couch.
Clumsily he dropped down on it with her assistance.
“We cannot do this anymore. I cannot do this anymore. What you did tonight was the most dangerous and idiotic thing you could do. If you wanna die so bad, put a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger, instead of risking the lives of innocent people and worrying me beyond belief! You forced me to lie and help you cover up a crime that could have ended so badly!”
“Sorry…” he looked miserable.
“Sorry won’t cut it! You have a drinking problem. You need rehab!”
“I need YOU!”
“Well, if you keep doing this, you will definitely lose me for good!”
“Don’t leave me! I’ll do anything.”
“OK, here is what you will do. You will rest and get better, then find a doctor and see if you need rehab or what. Then you will call your parents and make things right with them. You need them, they need you. You are their only child. This is not healthy! If you do all of this, you still will have me. If not, goodbye! I am not going to watch you destroy yourself!”
“Ezzy nothing! Promise!”
“I’ll promise, on one condition … one kiss. Just one kiss, please.”
“You think I want to kiss you after that idiotic thing you pulled and all that puking you did?”
“I won’t do it again … and I brushed my teeth.”
“Fine. One little kiss if that is the incentive you need, but be clear, this does NOT mean anything. We are NOT back together. Understood?”
Like a child greedily reaching for offered candy after begging for a long time, he reached for her and kissed her. Her heart jumped, then beat fast.
“So, now, you got your payment, you better deliver.” she said as neutral as she could.
“You will stay with me, right?”
“I am always there for you. You know that – I think I’ve proven myself plenty by now.”
“I need you with me tonight. Please. I will be good …. I swear.”
“I am such a frigging pushover. Fine, where is that shirt? At least this time I can kick your ass while you are sleeping and blame bad dreams!”
He smiled, faintly.
“Ethan, I need a huge favor from you. And I need to tell you a secret that cannot go beyond you and me, not even Amy, okay?”
“You know you can trust me. Are you all right? Is it your boss again?”
“No. It’s Forre… Nicholas.”
She told him about his drinking, his visits and the accident.
“Ez, I had no idea! He always seemed fine. He did mention that the other attorneys drink a lot of whiskey, they are all more then twice his age. He needs serious rehab.”
“He needs friends. He is very lonely. It’s killing him, literally. I cannot be all that for him. And it’s just not fair to me. I still care a lot more than I want about him. I am so torn. I need you and Cole to step up to the plate. Force him to hang with you guys, anything without alcohol. Whatever dudes like to do. Can you guys handle that?”
“Of course, Ez. I had no idea, I am so sorry to leave you hanging, and him. Work and the house and all …”
“I know. But he really needs friends now.”
“It’s done, Ez! I’ll call him as soon as we hang up! I feel like I failed him as a friend, need to fix that ASAP! Thanks for calling, sis, love ya!”
“Love you too, Ethan.”
Over the next weeks things changed. It wasn’t all ponies and rainbows immediately, but it started to look up.
Ethan came through, often Cole would join them for very frequent guys nights watching sports and car racing, playing video games, just hanging out. Anything avoiding alcohol.
Nicholas reconciled with his parents and after initial hesitance established weekly lunches on Sundays at their home. According to him, things were okay again and they were very proud of their son.
He improved significantly, even though he was still very clingy with Esmée.
And then he came over again late one night. Esmée had been about to go to bed, already in her sleepwear.
“You really don’t know how to work a phone, do you?”
“Nick, just because you work literally down the road from where I live, does not mean I am open 24/7 for you to drop by whenever. I am not McDonald’s!”
“Do you want me to leave?”
“No, you’re already here. But seriously. What if I had company?”
“What company? Are you seeing someone?!” he sounded alarmed.
“What if I were?”
“Esmée, I … but .. it … umm… ok, I’ll call in future. But, reason I am here is, I am going into rehab tomorrow. They don’t waste no time, they want me to go right away. Probably for a month in-patient and if they think I am okay, I’ll be released and continue out-patient treatment afterwards. Told my bosses something about sick relatives and am taking family leave. Unpaid.”
“That’s great! I am proud of you!”
“Will you miss me?”
“You know I will. Annoying as that is, considering you are my ex.”
“Is there hope for me to ever change that again?”
“Please. Be honest.”
“Maybe. I still need time. Right now I can’t deal with this second best thing and backstabbing again.”
“Backstabbing? Second best?”
“Let’s not start with that again.”
“We have to. We never spoke about it and I am supposed to make amends to those I hurt and all. Let’s start right now!”
“This was before your drinking problem!”
“OK, let me fix it regardless.” his calmly spoken plea angered her instantly
“Fix what? You got a time machine now? Don’t act like you don’t know what happened, I know I told you very straight out that it broke my heart how you ALWAYS picked your mother’s side when clearly she was the one initiating the fights by always hating on me, not vice versa and for no apparent reason other than jealousy over having to share her son! She called me a whore, right in front of you, several times when you knew full well you had been my first and only, and still are!” Ezzy didn’t even realize how honest she was as she almost yelled those words at him, eyes glistening with anger and held back tears.
Nicholas just gave her that odd look, grabbed her hands while she was still wildly gesturing as she was still upset and talking, pulled her close and then kissed her.
Fighting him at first, she succumbed to his kiss, returning it.
Things became heated quickly.
The kiss turned into making out and greedily touching each other as she longingly pressed her body against his.
She could feel he was ready for much more than kissing and didn’t stop him, before she knew it he had freed himself from his jeans without taking them off and she let him, just like she let him lift her up against the wall to slowly lower her to the right position.
She moaned when he thrust forward, and didn’t stop him.
For something so wrong it felt incredibly right.
Neither of them lasted long, when he slowly and carefully lowered her back down to the ground and finally released her from his embrace she kissed him.
And kissed him again. She had wanted and needed this. The right kind of wrong.
Afterwards both ended up in the shower, with a strange familiarity they caressed and cleaned each other, then went to her bedroom together.
That was the first time either of them spoke.
“Nick? Did we just do the sex with the ex thing?”
“We did more of a quickie with the ex thing.” he chuckled, receiving a slap on the chest for it.
“Not funny! Oh gawd! Your mother was right! What kind of a hussy am I?”
“I can fix that for ya. Let’s drop the whole ex thing. Then it’s not weird anymore.”
“But effective, right?”
“Let me think about this, please.”
She climbed over him to have more room on the bed, but snuggled up against him.
“Well, here is more for you to think about. You did a great job decorating this apartment, but it is crap! Loud and annoying neighbors, something’s always broken and what the hell is with all those pipes and things in your bedroom? And did we have that quickie over a new mouse hole?! Anyway, there is a pretty nice penthouse sitting empty for at least a month starting tomorrow and the commute to San Myshuno isn’t bad at all. Why don’t you house-sit for me and while you do, think about continuing that after I come back?”
“I know my mind is still a bit cloudy, but did you just ask me to move in with you?”
“I definitely did!” he smiled a hopeful smile.
“Nick – we are not back together!” she sounded desperate.
“More stuff for you to ponder while house-sitting for me …” he told her.