Laughter and card shuffling is heard in the living room of a small Brooklyn apartment. Music is being played on the portable speaker, drinks are being filled up and snacks are being eaten. Four people sit at a folding table, 3 in which are engaged in conversation, while 1 is lost in thought. The man shuffling the cards, Emerson, notices and calls out a name.
Grace snaps out of her thought and looks at Emerson.
Emerson: You’re okay?
Grace: *bluffing* Yeah I’m okay! I’m just waiting for you to shuffle those damn cards.
The rest of the table laughs. One man with curly brown hair puts a hand on Grace’s shoulder. She instantly begins blushing,
Scott: *jokingly* He’s just taking his time so he can find a way to rig the cards.
The petite, short woman next to Emerson speaks up.
Cami: Aye, ease up on my man, he’s doing his best!
Emerson looks at Cami and kisses her. They both smile at each other, and it bothers Grace immediately. How can one couple feel so good and look like they are so in love with each other, yet here she is, literally on the edge of–
Scott: Well your man has to stop playing and already deal those cards.
Emerson smiles in amusement and begins to deal the cards.
Emerson: Remember the rules this time, Grace; we wouldn’t want your partner to come at us for just being awesome.
Grace annoyingly cocks her eyebrow up; she can only take so much of the trash talk for tonight.
Grace: Whatever, Em, just get the damn game going.
Emerson doesn’t protest and begins dealing the cards. Grace doesn’t look up from her deck of cards. The game night progresses and laughter and chatter surround the living room.
Later that night
The music has officially been turned off and Emerson is putting dirty dishes in the sink in the kitchen while Cami helps out. Grace and Scott stand near the front door. Scott puts his coat on as Grace watches.
Scott: So, we’re still on for lunch later this week, right?
Grace smiles and leans against the wall next the door.
Grace: I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Scott smiles and proceeds to put his coat on and look towards the couple in the kitchen.
Scott: I’ll see you guys soon!
Emerson and Cami wave bye from the kitchen as Scott leaves the apartment. Grace stands there for a little too long. Cami doesn’t notice it, but Emerson does.
Emerson: Are you staying the night, Grace?
Grace turns around to focus her attention on the voice speaking at her.
Grace: Nah, I’ll be out of here in a few; I got to get ready for Willow when she comes to me tomorrow.
Emerson nods and continues to tidy up the kitchen area with Cami until Cami starts a conversation.
Cami: So what’s up with you and Scotty?
Grace walks towards the living room sofa.
Grace: Whatcha mean?
Cami: You guys were totally flirting with each other tonight. You guys look so cute together too.
Grace: *shyly laughs* We’re just friends.
Cami: That fuck?
Cami: *looks at Emerson* What? I’m just engaging in girl talk.
Grace hides her face in her palms. She looks back up, takes a deep breath and watches the couple bicker about Cami’s unfiltered question.
Emerson: About one of our friends, Cam.
Cami: *dismisses Emerson* So, Grace? What’s going on, because there was a lot of tension in that game of Spades earlier tonight.
Grace smiles and blushes, she takes a sip of her drink and places it back on the table.
Grace: Nothing… he’s just a really good friend.
Cami: *points to the temple on her head* Ahh, a really good friend in bed.
Emerson holds his face with his hands as Cami walks back to the kitchen, laughing at her comment. Grace looks down at her phone and keeps scrolling on her phone. Emerson sits next to Grace on the sofa.
Emerson: I feel like we barely had a chance to talk today. We were busy whipping your asses.
Grace cocks her eyebrow and pushes Emerson to the side; Emerson laughs.
Grace: I don’t know what game you were playing, Scott and I slaughtered you guys with our skills!
Emerson: *laughs* You and Scott have been hanging out more these days, huh?
Grace looks at Emerson, confused. She cocks her head to the side, wondering what Emerson meant by the question.
Grace: What are you getting at? We hang out all the time.
Emerson: I don’t hang out with an ex that I was highly in love with back in high-school.
Grace rolls her eyes and shifts her body position away from Emerson.
Emerson: Seriously Grace, are you and Scott a thing now? I feel like you and him have been spending time for a while now… what happened that night?
Grace: What night?
Emerson: The night you showed up at his apartment at 4 in the morning.
Grace freezes in place. She remembers that night. She drove with tears in her eyes, mindlessly driving to the closest person she could to at the time. She couldn’t go to Emerson’s place because of the distance, she couldn’t go to Max’s, and she couldn’t go to her parents’ place. She kept driving until she pulled up to an apartment building in the city. She runs up the stairs until she knocks on an apartment door. She looks up to see Scott standing there, confused to see her standing there. She jumps into his arms and cries uncontrollably.
Scott: Grace? Hey, what’s wrong?
Grace: I-I just I-
Grace can’t stop crying and she’s trying her hardest to catch her breath. Scott just holds her in his embrace and allows her to cry it out. She doesn’t say a word after that.
Grace looks at Emerson and shakes her head.
Grace: I just needed a friend during a difficult time.
Emerson: Jeez, thanks?
Grace: Oh, like I was coming to you at 4 in the morning knowing what I’d walk into with you and Cami.
Emerson: But why him outta all people? Don’t get me wrong, Scott is the homie, but you guys just seem like you’ve been closer than usual.
Grace: *annoyed* Can you not be so invested in my life and focus on yours, dude?
Emerson: All I’m saying is that I don’t need you to get hurt and hurt a friend in the process.
Grace: Is that so?
Emerson looks back at the kitchen to make sure Cami won’t come out in the middle of the conversation they are having. He looks back at Grace and finally speaks.
Emerson: You’re using Scott as your rebound.
Grace: *angry* How can you say that? Scott is my fucking friend, Em. I am allowed to be friends with an ex and still get along with them and be close. For you to even think that I’m using Scott as a rebound really makes me wonder just how well you know me.
Emerson rolls his eyes as a response. He’s totally not buying it, and Grace knew that from the start.
Emerson: Grace, I love you like family, and I’m only telling you this because I know your patterns. When was the last time you spoke to–
Grace: That doesn’t matter, and I’m not getting into anything with anyone.
Emerson: *continues* –Jamie?
A long pause is present. Neither of the two say anything until Emerson picks up the conversation once again.
Emerson: You haven’t said anything about him since he left, and now here you are, rekindling a summer romance with your ex.
Grace: Jamie is not here anymore. He’s in South Korea living his life, probably moved on and everything. Why dwell on something that wasn’t going to last?
Emerson: Because you love the fuck outta him, Grace. It’s not rocket science.
Grace: It doesn’t matter if I did or if I didn’t. He’s not here, end of story.
Emerson: Do you think about Jamie whenever you’re with Scott? That’s what I mean when I say you love the shit outta him. Scott is your rebound and I would hate for you to hurt yourself and a friend because you’re still hurt about Jamie’s departure.
Grace: *frustrated* I don’t need you to give me advice about my life when I didn’t even ask for it. It’s none of your business.
Emerson: It’s my business when both of my closest friends are in shit that they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.
Grace: Just stay outta it.
Grace gets up and gathers her things from the sofa.
Grace: I’m just going to take an Uber home.
Emerson: That’s it? You’re just running away from it?
Grace: I’m going home, where I belong.
As Grace gets her purse, Emerson gets up from the sofa and faces Grace.
Emerson: I know it’s none of my business, but I know how you work, Grace. You did this same shit when you and Max broke up. You just tie yourself up with another person until you or the other person gets too attached and get hurt in the end. I can’t see you go through this again.
Grace: Then don’t.
Grace leaves the apartment and waits for her cab. Once the cab drives up to the apartment building, Grace hops into it. She closes the door to the backseat and takes her phone out of her coat pocket. She scrolls through her phone and then sets it down on her lap. She looks at the city lights passing by as the car drives. Grace ponders the conversation she had with Emerson. She’s been enjoying her time with Scott, and sometimes she feels herself feeling good with Scott, but then she also finds herself thinking about Jamie. What has he been up to? Why can’t she just pick up the phone and see how he’s doing? Why isn’t she fighting for the one person that means the absolute world to her?
The last time Grace spoke to Jamie was when she left him that voicemail after leaving Max’s place a couple of months ago. She felt embarrassed immediately after sending it and since then she’s avoided Jamie at all costs. He would call her and she wouldn’t answer, and after a while he stopped trying. Since then, Grace has been trying to get her life back together; she’s been taking on more cases, she’s still seeing Willow every other weekend; she’s pretty much living her life the way she did before Jamie came into it. She realizes this was the first time she’s actually came out to hang out with Emerson and her friends since Jamie left. She’s been trying her hardest to get back to where her life was before Jamie. But, can it ever really go back to the way it was after experiencing the type of life she had with him?
The cab is now going over the Brooklyn Bridge back into the city, and Grace still sits there looking over the water. She closes her eyes for a split moment; she sees Jamie waking her up from her sleep, holding Willow.
Jamie: Rise and shine, Gracie. Little bean was wondering where her mama was this morning.
Grace slowly tosses back on the bed, seeing Jamie standing over her with Willow.
Grace: Mama’s here, Willie.
Grace sits up as Jamie hands her Willow in her arms. Willow sits on Grace’s lap, happily bouncing in place. Grace smiles at her daughter.
Grace: Thanks for getting Willow up this morning.
Jamie: It was nothing. I’m usually up early anyway and you needed the sleep after going over the case late last night.
Grace smiles at Jamie as he sits at the edge of the bed looking at the two girls.
Grace: Seriously though, I owe you. I know how Willow gets when she first wakes up. It’s not the most pleasant thing.
Jamie: *laughs* She’s a little sassy bean when she wakes up that’s for sure.
Jamie leans back to play hand games with Willow, who is intrigued.
Jamie: How about something along the lines of getting some coffee at the cafe? And perhaps a cookie for this little one.
Grace smiles at the interaction between Jamie and Willow.
Grace: Sounds like a plan.
The cab stops in front of an apartment building complex in the city. Grace thanks the cab driver and steps out as the cab drives off. She walks into the building, greets the front desk and hops on the elevator. She walks to the front door and unlocks it. When she walks in, she gets startled at the sight.
Max turns around and shushes Grace and points at the baby play pen in the living room. Grace is utterly confused at what’s going on.
Grace: What in the world are you doing here, I–
Max: I have to go back to England for a bit and I would like to take Willow with me.
Grace’s eyes widen in shock. She feels sick to her stomach. She sees nothing but blurry images of her apartment. She’s speechless.