I reach for the organic avocado oil.
Yeah, this isn’t going to work.
It’s just out of my reach. As I stand on my tip toes in my highest heeled boots, it’s no use, I’m never going to get there.
Damn it, why haven’t they re-stocked the shelf? It’s the last bottle of my favorite brand and it’s shoved to the back.
I turn to go and find a staff member here in the busy Trader Joe’s on a Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day long weekend.
Good luck with that.
My nose hits a wall. Well, I thought it was a wall, sort of. It’s more like a chiseled chest.
I can just tell.
Yeah, they’re very defined muscles covered in navy cashmere.
I can’t see his face. Without asking permission, he boldly spins me back towards the shelves. With his left hand still touching my hip, he causes a shiver as he reaches dangerously close to my breast and reaches the oil.
The hair on my arms stand up while something stirs deep inside of me. I try to get a glimpse of his face, but I can’t. He grabs the glass bottle, hands it to me and walks away.
Who does that? I didn’t even get a chance to thank him.
In that brief encounter, not only did my body physically react to his touch but my soul ached.
I know that sounds insane, crazy, but it’s true.
There was something familiar about him. His strength, his confidence, and oh god, his scent. It was then that I realized I needed to see more. I need to see his face.
My feet scramble to chase after him, just to be sure. What I’m feeling, I wouldn’t dare share with anyone until I was sure.
He’s rounding the corner and getting swallowed up in the crowd. I push past the hordes of holiday shoppers, trying not to lose sight of him. He’s heading towards the organic produce. The crowd parts giving me a chance to see him, albeit from behind.
The image doesn’t disappoint. He’s well-built maybe an athlete from his fantastic ass and strong thighs. His shoulders and back are equally strong. My eyes travel up the rest of the way until I reach his hair.
His hair. It’s the same hair. My heart is beating out of my chest.
A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach causes me to stumble. Righting myself, I walk a few more steps before pausing. I brace myself against a sturdy display.
He turns so that I see every feature of his face, features I’d never forget.
He doesn’t look the same as he did ten years ago. None of us do, but I’d know him anywhere. His eyes are the same vivid green color with a sexy new crinkle around them. His dimples aren’t as pronounced as before. His nose is strong, his smile’s still sexy.
My breathing is ragged. I watch in awe-like fashion as he inspects each grapefruit before selecting the perfect one. It would be comical, intriguing even, if the bile wasn’t rising to the surface. I might even pass out.
It’s him, I know it.
I will myself, with all my might, to walk towards him. It’s been too long, there are things to be said and God help him, I’m going to say them. He’s clueless, although he shouldn’t be, of what’s about to go down as I march towards him.
Him, I’d thought I would never get this chance.
I stop on the other side of the mango display. He’s looking down and doesn’t even acknowledge me. I open my mouth. Nothing comes out, my mouth is like sandpaper. I try again. “Gr…” Still nothing. I clear my throat quietly as I don’t want him to hear me until I’m ready.
One more time, here goes. “Grif,” I say above a whisper. Nothing so I say it again. “Grif.” This time it sounds like I’m shouting. I’m not, but almost.
He finally looks up and then at me or rather through me. He looks perplexed. He barely smiles then looks away.
You son of a bitch.
You are not going to pretend not to know me.
He walks away but not before gently placing the mango in his cart. I catch up to him and grab his arm abruptly spinning him around which seems surprising based on my size versus his. He’s standing there staring at me without any clue.
Oh no, this is not happening.
“Grif, you bastard. Don’t pretend to not know me. That’s beneath even you.” I can feel the tears welling up. I thought I was stronger, but truth be told I’m standing in front of the man that took my heart and he has the audacity to pretend I don’t exist.
“Excuse me,” he says sounding intrigued and albeit, annoyed.
“Oh, am I bothering you?” I don’t have much of a temper, but right now he’s pushing my reasonable limits.
“Well, generally when a beautiful woman approaches me, I would say no, but yes you are beginning to annoy me.” He shrugs free of my grip and walks away.
No, he doesn’t get to do this. “Wait,” I yell at him.
I don’t care about my avocado oil, so I cause a scene and drop my basket in front of everyone and chase him down.
“Listen, Beautiful. I don’t know what you want from me. I don’t know you. That’s a shame, but we’re done here.” He dismisses me.
I rush past him and turn to face him, my finger waving in his face. I must look like a lunatic, but I don’t care.
Recognizing this is my last chance, I go for it. “Oh really? Let me help you out there. You don’t remember screwing the hell out of me for two days straight that we couldn’t even walk after that. Or how about this, taking me from behind in that tiny storage closet at that football stadium where you had to muzzle my screams so we wouldn’t get caught.
No? Huh, nothing?”
I didn’t know Grif was such a good actor.
He’s playing utterly surprised by the description of that wild date. Like, he wasn’t even there.
I have to slow my breathing or I’m sure I’ll hyperventilate. “Well, if that doesn’t trigger anything, maybe this will.” He’s too afraid to move.
“The night we made love on the beach and then you proposed to me. You said something like ‘Your world without me means nothing’. You don’t remember any of this?”
He continues to stand there, dumbfounded, arms crossed in defiance.
“Well, fuck you.”
I turn and rush towards the exit. I know that wasn’t very lady-like, but he deserved it. I find my way to the front of the store and jog towards my car. I throw open the door and fling myself inside. The top is down so I close the roof as I start to tremble. The tears begin to sting against my cheeks. I can’t will myself to start the car so I cover my face and sob.
He hurt me ten years ago and now he’s devastated me one last time pretending not to remember. Was I that horrible of a fiancée? He left me, after all, so I must have been. He didn’t even have the decency to say ‘Hey sorry about the way I left, but you look good.’ No, he had to humiliate me by not even recognizing me as at least someone he slept with if not his fiancée.
Has he suffered a head injury? Part of me hopes he has.
My face is still buried when I hear a soft knock against the window. I shake my head and hope the stranger goes away. They don’t. The knocking gets louder. Please, just go away I say to myself deep within. No, the knocking continues. I look up, probably with a mascara streaked face. I see him.
I see red as I can’t believe he has the audacity now to approach me as if I hadn’t just melted down in front of him and the rest of middle suburbia’s favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s.
“What do you want?” I ask lowering the window. If I had held my ground and stuck around long enough to buy my groceries, I would have grabbed something to throw at his head.
Have I mentioned I don’t usually condone violence?
He looks uncomfortable. He should be. “Um. I was worried about you.” It’s a statement, but his voice raises at the end more like a question.
“No need, I’m fine.” Clearly, I’m not, but I dig my heels in for the sake of my self-esteem.
He clears his throat. “Yes, I can see that.”
Is he making fun of me now? “Go away, Grif. I don’t know what game you’re playing, but you’ve made your choice to ignore me, pretending I don’t exist. So, on that note, I’m going to go.”
I tremble as I try to start my car. It’s an easy, push start vehicle, but I can’t get it to start. He hasn’t responded to my words and yet he leans inside to see why my car won’t start as if he’s a white knight.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to help you get out of here.” He smiles attempting to show me he’s empathetic. It’s a kind gesture, which is odd being he was just an ass inside.
He reaches over and points to my gear shift. “Ah, that’s the issue. You don’t have the car in park.” He pulls his head out of the window.
I slide the car into park, but now I don’t want to drive away until he admits he knows me. “Why can’t you just acknowledge me?” My lip quivers as I look him square in the face.
“I don’t know you; I swear.” He crosses his heart with his fingers.
A small laugh escapes me, mostly out of disgust. “Right.”
He continues to hold on to my car like he doesn’t want me to leave. “Why do you keep calling me Grif?”
I shake my head. “Really? Now you want me to play along? Because…,” I pause and take a breath, “because your name is Griffin, but you always preferred Grif.”
“I assure you my name isn’t Grif or Griffin.”
“Sure, then what is it?” I push the button and my car starts this time.
“It’s Barrett, Barrett Gibson.” He pulls out his business card as evidence that he isn’t lying. “See,” he says handing me a card.
I take it from him even though I’ll be throwing it out later. The card displays his name, just like he told me. That doesn’t mean anything. Barrett Gibson displays prominently at the top of the card followed by his profession, Stunt Man.
Not convinced. I’ve had girlfriends whose husbands had a second set of business cards to give out to other women. Sleazy really.
“Do you believe me?” He asks as if it matters whether to him that I believe him.
“Sure. If you want me to believe you, I do.”
He pulls away from my car. “No, you don’t. I promise you I’m not this asshole Grif.”
My head whips in his direction. “Why would you call him that if you aren’t him?”
“It’s obvious. He left you before you married him. I pay attention. I heard what you said in there and more importantly what you didn’t say.” He motions towards the store.
My car is idling and I want to leave. I try to hand him back his business card. I don’t care anymore; I don’t want it.
“No. Keep it.” He walks away, but not before turning back and saying, “take care of yourself.”